Tag Archives: This So-Called American Life

War On Halloween

Next time someone says we need to let “charity” deal with the poor, remind them that the reason that doesn’t work is because people are selfish assholes:

Dear Prudence,

I live in one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in the country, but on one of the more “modest” streets—mostly doctors and lawyers and family business owners. (A few blocks away are billionaires, families with famous last names, media moguls, etc.) I have noticed that on Halloween, what seems like 75 percent of the trick-or-treaters are clearly not from this neighborhood. Kids arrive in overflowing cars from less fortunate areas. I feel this is inappropriate. Halloween isn’t a social service or a charity in which I have to buy candy for less fortunate children. Obviously this makes me feel like a terrible person, because what’s the big deal about making less fortunate kids happy on a holiday? But it just bugs me, because we already pay more than enough taxes toward actual social services. Should Halloween be a neighborhood activity, or is it legitimately a free-for-all in which people hunt down the best candy grounds for their kids?

—Halloween for the 99 Percent

OMG. Prudence responds:

Your whine makes me kind of wish that people from the actual poor side of town come this year not with scary costumes but with real pitchforks. Stop being callous and miserly and go to Costco, you cheapskate, and get enough candy to fill the bags of the kids who come one day a year to marvel at how the 1 percent live.

A part of me has to wonder if some of these kids from “less fortunate areas” aren’t maybe, you know, of a different skin color from our letter writer? And that maybe a big part of her beef is that her neighborhood is overrun with black and brown families for a night? Just a guess, but certainly one that has to be considered.

This isn’t the first time the holidays have brought out the less charitable side of Americans. A few years ago I wrote about local Nashvillians begrudging the trash collectors their Christmas tip because “mah tax dollahs!” Funny how some folks seem to think that paying taxes entitles them to be selfish, self-satisfied pricks.

Get over yourselves and STFU. And if our letter writer really doesn’t think those poor kids deserve her candy because of all the free stuff they get from the taxpayers, she can turn off all the house lights, shut the curtains, and hole up under her blanket for a night, blocking out the cries from the less fortunate outside her window. Seems to be working for her so far.

12 Comments

Filed under Holidays, poverty

No, Random Mt. Juliet TN Woman, You Do Not Have Ebola

[UPDATE AD NAUSEUM]:

Let the games begin:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – An American Airlines flight from Dallas was quarantined in Nashville after medical scare. Health officials said there was no risk for Ebola.

[...]

The Metro Public Health Department said the passenger with the medical issue had no history of contact with anyone with Ebola in Dallas and had no travel history to Africa. Officials added there was no concern the passenger had Ebola and there was no risk to other passengers on the plane.

This was the second Ebola scare in the mid-state in the last 48 hours. First responders in Hazmat suits quarantined a Mt. Juliet gas station late Saturday night.

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Oh fer crissakes. With the arrival of cold and flu season, expect to see more stories like this one:

MT. JULIET, Tenn. – A Mt. Juliet gas station was closed for several hours after a woman called emergency dispatchers with what they described as Ebola-like symptoms.

Wilson County officials said the woman was complaining of chest pains just after midnight Sunday. After dispatchers began questioning the woman for additional information, they determined she could have symptoms of the Ebola virus.

EMTs responded to the Mapco gas station at the intersection of Lebanon Road and Mt. Juliet Road wearing full protective gear. The gas station was closed while crews worked.

The woman was transported to TriStar Summit Medical Center in Hermitage, were medical crews had already been alerted to the possible Ebloa threat. Nurses met the patient at the front door wearing masks, gloves and protective masks.

After evaluating the woman, the situation was “cleared,” according to officials. No Ebloa protocol was activated.

A spokesperson for Summit Medical Center said doctors have cleared the woman, and she does not have the Ebola virus. No threat remained at the hospital.

Here’s a quick meme to determine if you might have ebola:

ebola-quiz-you-dont-have-ebola

There is a rampant, overriding, highly politicized culture of fear in America. It’s been with us for about the past 30 years, maybe more. It used to thrive on the fringes of American society, where people afraid of the coming zombie apocalypse would stockpile their canned goods, guns and ammo. Hell, I remember in the mid-70s my mom kept a stash of canned food and 50-gallon bottles of water in our garage “for the revolution,” and we were not a nutso survivalist family.

But since 9/11 this culture of fear has been mainstreamed. It’s been aided and abetted by talk radio — mostly right-wing radio, but I’ve heard my share of fear porn on left-wing radio, too. The news media has fear as its default position (Missing white women! Shark attacks! Immigrants! Terrorism!) and political entities exploit it for profit.

I have this theory that fear sells so easily here because we are such a prosperous country. People who have a lot, have a lot to lose, and thus tend to be more fearful. Fear is an easy sell, but it’s also incredibly damaging. It’s turning America into a ridiculous parody of modern civilization.

When I read stuff about random people thinking they have Ebola all I can do is laugh at them.

[UPDATE]: And another one, in Birmingham, Alabama. This one was at an airport so the “abundance of caution” makes slightly more sense.

[UPDATE] 2:

The only thing more depressing than this story are the search engine terms WordPress tells me has brought folks here today: “ebola scare in mt. juliet, tennessee,: “mt juliet ebola,” and this one: “is it true that a woman has ebola in mt juilet.” Seems like the full-court fear has begun.

I am slightly encouraged by “george zimmerman is an asshole,” however.

11 Comments

Filed under fear, media, Tennessee

Dumbass Overzealous Wingnut Militia FAIL

A group of ATV-riding, camo-wearing, gun-brandishing DIY law and order types from Colorado decided they’d travel to the U.S.-Mexico border in Arizona and, by God, do the job that our useless gummint has refused to do! And boy did they think they hit the jackpot when they thought they’d found smugglers or illegal immigrants in the Arizona desert one night, too!

Sadly for them they’d uncovered a group of wildlife biologists conducting a bat population survey. Hilarity did not ensue:

Estrada says one of the militiamen apologized to the group of conservationists, who apparently did not want to hear it.

“Of course, they weren’t very receptive about the apology. They actually told them that’s something you should not be doing. There’s danger out there. There’s other groups of people in campsites,” Estrada says.

Sheriff Estrada says Santa Cruz County does not welcome border militia groups.

“These people that are completely out of their environment. They really don’t know the area. They don’t know the terrain. They have little knowledge of the dynamics of the border. So it can be a real problem,” Estrada says. “We really don’t want them here.”

Dumbasses. I just love these idiot wingnuts who live in their information-bubble fantasyland, where they’re just so convinced that they’re the only ones who can save America from whatever issue is dominating the far reaches of the AM dial that month. And then they sail in like Captain fucking America and find out that a) the problem isn’t nearly as bad as the mouth-breathers have said it is and 2) they’re actually not helping things.

This all goes back to the psychological problem at the root of the conservative extreme: the idea that they’ve lost cultural relevance. Poor dears, trying so hard to be important somehow, to have an impact. Making fools of themselves every step of the way.

Take a pill, get some therapy and for God’s sake, stop listening to nativist right-wing hate radio.

Comments Off

Filed under immigration

Stop Washing Your Hair, Ladies

[UPDATE]:

Sorry, don’t know why comments were turned off. WordPress has changed its posting form and I haven’t quite got the hang of the new system.

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And by “washing,” I do mean, using shampoo.

I’m one of those people who isn’t just having a bad hair day, I’m having a bad hair life. I got the family’s bad hair gene: while my sister was blessed with gorgeous, naturally curly hair, I got the limp, straight, thin hair from my mother’s side of the family. Aging has only made this situation worse.

And then I stopped washing my hair. And everything changed.

It started back in the early 2000s. I was a fan of the show “What Not To Wear,” one of the early makeover reality shows on TLC. One time Nick Arrojo, the guy who did the show’s hair makeovers, told a client that he didn’t wash his hair with shampoo. Ever. I thought it was the strangest thing I’d ever heard. I told my hair stylist and she said, “well, actually, I only wash my hair once every six months.” I couldn’t believe it. She had gorgeous, thick, shiny auburn hair. It looked as clean as anyone’s. She explained how shampoo causes the scalp to produce more oils and actually makes the hair weak. It can even make your hair fall out.

I was pretty shocked, seeing as how every time one goes to the hair salon they not only wash your hair but hawk a bunch of verrry pricey shampoos, conditioners and other hair products at you.

A few months later I switched hair salons and my new stylist told me he, too, did not wash his hair. I mean, what a tremendous irony, right? Hair salons try to sell you a bunch of crap their own stylists don’t even use.

Anyway, I stopped washing my hair every day several years ago. I rinse it out with water every day, but I only use shampoo once every week or two. And now I’m ready to stop doing that. Shampoo is a racket, when you use it all the time you then have to use conditioners and all sorts of other crap to make up for what your body naturally does when you stopp applying formaldehyde, sodium laureth sulfate, and other toxins to your hair and scalp in the first place.

I’m not sure the solution is a new product from the creator of the Bumble & Bumble empire. You can use baking soda and peppermint oil and make your own “purely perfect” solution. I’m pretty sure most peoples’ budgets will appreciate the switch, too. We could actually be looking at the demise of a major sector of the cosemtics industry. Good riddance.

5 Comments

Filed under American trends

Day 17 Of My Captivity

I’m starting to wonder if this all hasn’t been one big psychological experiment conducted by our Corporate Overlords to see just how far the average American customer can be pushed before they go postal.

On the other hand, Starbucks has really great coffee cake.

1 Comment

Filed under AT&T, corporate overlords, telecom

Greetings From The 9th Circle of AT&T Uverse Telecom Hell

Day 13 of our captivity and we are completely out of service — all services. No internet, no TV, no telephone. It’s been this way for 48 hours.

We’ve had six people come over to our house to try to figure out what’s wrong, including our personal electrical contractors, who AT&T told us to call because they couldn’t figure out our phones. Lord knows how much that’s going to cost me. And now it appears it was all entirely unnecessary, anyway.

Yesterday we had a guy I call the Telecommunications Whisperer come over, ostensibly to give us a new box but after 15 minutes here he determined the problem was a fault in the line from the street. “They should have run you a new line from the start,” he told me. Gee, you don’t say.

Here’s where it gets good: as soon as the line guy arrived, all of the electronics in the house seemed to rejoice, because I was immediately back in service. TV popped on, emails started flooding the in-box, and I got a dial tone on the phone. I went out to ask the guy what he did and he said, “Nothing, I just got here. I’m just getting ready to run some tests.”

I’m starting to think we don’t need a repairman but an exorcist.

By the time the guy left at 6 pm, new line installed, everything was dead. No phones, no internet, no TV, no nuthin’. On the phone with AT&T I was told I need a new ONT box. But — here’s where it gets good — apparently Nashville has a shortage of ONT boxes. They have to order one and who knows when FedEx or UPS can deliver one!

I just give up. I really do. Each new person leaves me in worse shape than the last guy. No one knows what to do so they’re just replacing everything to see what sticks.

I’m done. Finished. Come and take your crap, put my old box back, give me back my old DSL line, and let me get on with my life.

I mean, seriously. We put a man on the moon 45 years ago. Today I can’t even get a telecom service installed.

I tell you this long saga as a way of explaining why I’ve been out of pocket the last few days and comment moderation has been slow to nonexistent. I don’t know when I’ll be back on line. I’m writing this from Starbucks.

Be well.

14 Comments

Filed under AT&T, corporate overlords, telecom

Public Service Announcement: AT&T Uverse Sucks, Stay Away

[UPDATE] 2:

Apparently my solution is to move to Chattanooga.

I actually like Chattanooga a lot. It’s a beautiful river city surrounded by gorgeous mountains. They have an awesome aquarium and a fabulous music festival called Riverbend every June. I could live there. Hell, if it was good enough for Bessie Smith….

I think what frustrates me the most about this whole ordeal is that the actual product itself is very good, probably wonderful. But where these big companies always trip themselves up is on the people stuff. They can handle gears and switches and fiber optics and other technical stuff but dealing with people is something they absolutely fail at. And what this tells me is, feel-good marketing and PR campaigns notwithstanding, they simply do not value people. Not as customers, not as employees. They are not focused on people at all. They are focused on their product, not how it makes its way into the world. But telecom is a very people-centric product. It’s something people interact with in all aspect of their lives. It’s completely integrated into a person’s life. To ignore the people aspect is to miss something fundamental about what it is you do.

Love them or hate them, Apple has always gotten the people aspect of what they do. AT&T has not.

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You’d think in Great Capitalist America we consumers would have more options than just choosing between two soul-sucking, mendacious corporate behemoths for our home technology needs but sadly, in another failure of capitalism, that answer is no.

Mr. Beale and I have spent the past two weeks mired in a labyrinth of corporate incompetence so massive it is astounding that this major American company hasn’t imploded under the weight of its own fail. A few weeks ago we made the (in retrospect) ill-fated decision to switch our tech at the house to AT&Ts Uverse. It was not a decision made lightly: I’ve had very bad experiences with Comcast and other Tech Giants and was reluctant to re-enter that world. But we’ve been spending a ridiculous amount of money on an old-school DSL line that’s so sluggish we can’t even stream Netflix movies while working on a laptop, and YouTube videos chug along like a slow boat to China. Meanwhile we’ve been getting DirectTV, paying a ridiculous amount each month and dealing with weather interruptions, etc. Switching to AT&T would be cheaper, faster, better, etc., or so they said.

Well, I’ll spare you all the gory details but suffice it to say this has been an utter disaster all the way around. We had to have two installers come out — after we were completely blown off on our first appointment, I might add — and half of our phone jacks STILL don’t work. Email has been another disaster, with me finally setting up an account on iMail but not able to send to more than one person at a time. I guess AT&T expects me to send 300 individual messages informing people of my new email address. Does that make sense to anyone? When I posted the question about sending bulk email on the AT&T forums page, I was told to get a free Gmail account.

So the solution to my problem is to not use the service I just spent a lot of money getting. Okie dokie.

Today I called tech support and after getting cut off the first time got switched to two different people where I was told my problem could be solved if I paid an additional $15 a month.

Meanwhile, Mr. Beale has not been able to set up his email account to Outlook Express.

This has been an utter disaster. We will have to try to cancel this service — if they let us out of the indentured servitude that is the AT&T contract. Perhaps they’ll take my first-born son. Maybe a right or left arm.

[UPDATE]:

Let me add, the cherry on top of this Suck Sundae has been the constant requests for me to take their “survey” to “offer my opinion.” No. You do not want my opinion.

21 Comments

Filed under AT&T, corporate overlords