February 28, 2009

Don't Worry Bombay-bee

Whenever I am on the phone with a company's technical support department in India, the representative repeats the phrase "don't worry." Actually, it's more like "don't vorry." I find this phrase really patronizing and really annoying.

It happens every time I call Dell technical support. The other day, it also happened when I called Time Warner Cable's technical support. Apparently, there's a master call center or two in India (located, I believe, in Bangalore) where the training supervisors, among other things, teach the representatives to say "don't worry."

It's not up to these representatives to judge whether the customer is worried or not, or to suggest what state of mind we should maintain. That is very insulting. Rather, it's their job to try and solve our problem (the success rate for which, in my case, by the way, is far from 100%).

Speaking of state of mind, however, instead of staying annoyed when this happens, I now turn it into a joke. When I spoke to the Time Warner representative the other day and she said "don't vorry" for the first time, I politely asked her not to say this to me. When she said it for the second time, I started counting and said "that's twice." By the time she said "don't vorry" for the fourth time, we were both laughing.

Which, incidentally, is the best way to stop worrying.

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February 26, 2009

In Your Face Pie

I had never heard of a "Marion berry" when I purchased a "marionberry pie" at Trader Joe's yesterday. However, I am familiar with Washington, DC "Mayor for Life" Marion Barry, having lived in the DC area during an especially embarrassing period of Barry's rule (otherwise known as any point in Barry's adult life). I was in DC for Jay Stephens, the crack pipe drug bust, and "the bitch set me up!"

It still astounds me that DC voters keep electing Marion Barry to office. Not only did DC's Ward 8 residents elect Barry to the City Council after he served time in prison, voters then re-elected Barry as DC's Mayor! Now there are news reports that Barry is, surprise surprise, in legal trouble once again, this time for failing to pay his taxes. No matter, I'm sure that won't negatively affect Barry's popularity or electability one whit.

I am hoping that my digestive reaction to my Trader Joe's marionberry pie will be better than my digestive reaction to Marion Barry.

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February 19, 2009

Boycott Rupert Murdoch!

Yesterday, Rupert Murdoch's New York Post published a despicable racist smear against President Barack Obama that masqueraded as a cartoon. The Post's cartoon depicted two white police officers shooting Travis the chimpanzee (known from Coke and Old Navy television commercials), and one of them saying "[t]hey'll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill."

After Reverend Al Sharpton and many others expressed outrage about the cartoon, and the New York Times quoted a newsroom employee at the New York Post as saying that the Post's City Desk telephone was ringing off the hook with complaints from readers, the Post and its defenders denied that the cartoon had anything to do with President Obama. The Post issued a statement that read: "[t]he cartoon is a clear parody of a current news event, to wit the shooting of a violent chimpanzee in Connecticut. It broadly mocks Washington's efforts to revive the economy. Again, Al Sharpton reveals himself as nothing more than a publicity opportunist."

I don't buy the Post's explanation. First, the Post ignores the long history of racist comparisons of black people with monkeys and apes. Worse, this association was explicitly and repeatedly made regarding Barack Obama while Obama was running for President. Second, there is a street sign in the Post's cartoon that reads "Beware of Dogs." White police? Dogs? Black people? There's quite a historical connection there. That sign didn't get into the cartoon by accident. Third, in blog comments and elsewhere, right wingers say that the Post's cartoon did not refer to Obama because Obama didn't "write" the stimulus bill. But of course Obama is the author of the bill. It was Obama's idea, and he gave the Congress the elements that he wanted in the bill. Tax cuts. Check. Infrastructure spending. Check. Renewable energy spending. Check. Education and other long-term job creation spending. Check. Home mortgage assistance. Unemployment assistance. Check. The House and Senate then ironed out the exact details and mix of these elements. It's normal for a President whose party controls the House and/or the Senate to "author," "write," "germinate," "pass down," or otherwise cause to have his party leaders draft up what is essentially "his" bill. Indeed, the Post said that the cartoon addressed "Washington's efforts," not "Congress' efforts," "to revive the economy," and obviously, President Obama is a principal part, if not the primary mover, behind those Washington "efforts."

The New York Post has the First Amendment right to publish this garbage. But there's a difference between what the Post has the right to do, and what's right to do. Even if the Post's flimsy explanation is to be believed and the dead chimp in its cartoon represented Congress, or "Washington," and not President Obama, it was still wildly negligent of the Post to publish a cartoon that raised so many ugly connections to our country's racist past, some of which were on full display against Barack Obama only a few months ago. Also, the best that can be said against the Post's cartoon is that it approved of deadly violence against people at one end of Pennsylvania Avenue or the other.

We have rights ourselves, including the right to speak out against the Post's cartoon, and to vote against such irresponsible corporate behavior with our wallets. I think the appropriate response to the Post's cartoon is to demand a full and unambiguous apology from the Post, and not the half-assed kind that merely expresses regret for "readers who may have misinterpreted the cartoon." If the Post refuses to issue such an apology, we should call for a boycott, and termination of subscriptions, to all of Rupert Murdoch's media properties, including the New York Post, the Wall Street Journal, the Fox television channels and networks, and the movies produced by 20th Century Fox's film studios.

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February 07, 2009

My Recipe for Tequila Banana Pancakes

Step 1: Throw a party. Serve Margaritas. Use measuring cup.

Step 2: (*Crucial: Do this before having coffee*) Make banana pancakes the next day, using same measuring cup. Don't wash measuring cup beforehand.


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February 03, 2009

Is Christian Bale's Rant for Real? (Warning: NSFW Language)

This audio recording is supposedly the voice of actor Christian Bale on the set of the film "Terminator Salvation." Apparently, the Director of Photography, Shane Hurlbut, walked into a scene Bale was shooting, after which Bale went berserk, at one point threatening to hurl Hurlbut's butt off the set and off the picture entirely.

I don't know if the audiotape is a genuine recording of Bale, or whether it is a prank. It has shown up all over the news media as accurate. If the tape is real, it confirms some of the worst stereotypes about spoiled, abusive, infantile famous actors. Remember when Alec Baldwin was recorded in a similar telephone rant ("what a rotten little pig you really are") against his own young daughter?

Even though I live among some of these people, this sure doesn't make me want to go out of my way to get to know them.

(Photo from Amazon.com)

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