Java Zen:Thinking Out Loud Friday, 2020.08.14
We do the shopping, bill paying, budgeting, etc. We know less money means less
freedom. Maybe if the president and Congress did the grocery shopping, they'd
know why we're mad.

		Christen Varley, Boston tea party leader


TSA – Safe Haven For Creepy Cretins With Stunted Self-Esteem

Ever since grade school, I’ve had to deal with a particular attitude among hyper-insecure short people whereby they have an impulsive need to somehow “prove” themselves by doing me harm. “Get the big guy, it’ll look good and if I lose, well hey, I lost to the big guy and I sill look good.” It’s not just me. All big guys seem to have to deal with this at some point. As the big guy, it means either way you loose. In grade school, it meant getting picked on a lot and occasionally beaten up. Wasn’t much of a fighter thanks, in part, to that “turn the other cheek” crap. On the rare occassion I did fight back, it was a net loss because the poor, smaller underdog usually gathered sympathy from those unaware the runt initiated the conflict.

When the teenage years brought muscle to my lanky frame, the intimidation factor pretty much closed the door on the physical proving grounds, even though I was still clinically shy and quite the accomplished wimp. (Adding an Aikido black belt to my set-O-skills sealed this avenue off permanently.) At this point, the weak-ass diminutive efforts at sniping hits of self-esteem off of others perceived as self-confident becomes much more covert. Also at this point, it is no longer limited to just males. The covert field is a level one that offers satisfaction for both genders.

It’s easy to recognize the attempts at marginalizing who I am or otherwise confine my choices like a hawk recognizes a rabbit. Water off a duck’s back, these days. Ignoring the attempt is all I have energy for. There are, however, occasions where I have no choice but to deal with such stunted emotional growth. And it’s always situations where the self-esteem starved cretin is on the other side of the fence, taunting from the safety of Mom and Dad’s porch, as it were. The secondary and tertiary consequences of September 11, 2001, and the rise in power of the TSA security agent at airports is a real time example of this environment.

It’s a low level job with a relatively low skill threshold to qualify. But you get the uniform and, with the full weight and power of federal law, you get to ply your trade from the safety of Mom and Dad’s porch. An attractive environment for the feeble-esteemed. What a joy they must feel, knowing that with a wave of their hand they can force whom ever to do the “little security dance” for their pleasure. (The fact most of the airport security hoopla is all theater belongs in a separate post. Better yet, go here.)

When traveling, I tend to get tapped for the extra security screening. Not that I’m sporting the terrorist look, rather, I suspect, because I’m tall, muscular and probably have a displeased look on my face due solely to the fact I have to squeeze my 6′ 5″ frame into a puny lawn chair inside an aluminum tube and remain frozen there for the duration of the flight. But maaaaaaaaaaaybe, I’m just having paranoid dilutions. So I started keeping track. So far, every time I’ve been tapped, it’s been by members of the 5′ 5″ or less ruck of TSA agents.

Still…water off a duck’s back. The strategy of choice is to acknowledge the runt only as much as necessary and get the hell out of there. But like with the school yard, the runt knows they get to win and all I can do is loose. So, I do the “extra security dance”, update the mental score card and go on my way. A recent trip to Dallas was a little different. It’s the closest I’ve come to empirical proof that this attitude exists within the TSA ranks.

It was a short business trip, so I had one carry on with everything I needed, including all those extremely seriously frighteningly dangerous liquids and gels sealed in the required 1 qt. zip-lock bag. I do my dance – shoes off, belt off, watch off, wallet out, laptop out, bag of extremely seriously frighteningly dangerous liquids and gels out, boarding pass held in my teeth…

All goes fine. I’m on the other side getting dressed again and I look up to see a short, fat, unattractive female TSA agent holding up my bag of extremely seriously frighteningly dangerous liquids and gels. She has one of those half grins going. And I think, “Uh-oh.”

“Is this yours?”, she asks. (No courtesy “Sir” at the end. Uh-oh.)

“Yes”, say I.

Slowly, deliberately she takes out the toothpaste. “This is too big.” I just look at her. She unrolls the end of the tube down a bit and points to the label, “It’s 5 ounces and has to be less than 3.” I just look at her. She is holding that more than half empty tube of toothpaste up with a condescending, self-satisfied smile on her face. I imagine the same smile slithers across her face after finishing off that quart of vanilla crunch ice cream each night back at the hovel. But there was more to the vibe. If I could read her mind (scary thought), I suspect there was something like “Go ahead, you bastard. Give me a reason to take you down. Make my day.” Given this blubbery TSA hag was wearing a TSA uniform – the most powerful, illogical, contradictory, uncaring authority on the concourse that can blow my life clean out of the water – I wasn’t feeling lucky.

I trade glances with the lady next in line and think, “I’ve already lost here. But, I still can choose how much I want to loose.” I could have helped TSA hag with the math, but that would have meant getting to know TSA hag much more than I cared to in this or any other life time. I chose to loose the toothpaste.

It’s schadenfreude, to be sure. Any bureaucracy that gives this kind of power over the minutia of other people’s lives gets exploited by the emotional runts it hires to implement it’s intrusive, ineffective policies.

[Edit History]


I’m sure these petty types lash out at others for similar reasons against different traits. I happen to be tall and male, so that’s the filter I get. For being pretty, well dressed or intelligent…not so much.


Grammar and typo fixes.


An Inconvenient Effort

[This post dovetails nicely as an example to my The Truth Never Changes post. – GPE]

After the fourth email with the subject “Fw: FW: FW: FW: No Gas On May 15th …” showed up, it was time for a blog post. Apologies to the senders, some of them are family and friends and they mean well. But thresholds are thresholds and to paraphrase Rodney King, “People, I just want to say, you know, can’t we all just get beyond the bumper stickers?”

The subject line is irritating enough. Nothing says “I’ve thought this through and it’s good stuff” like successive “FW” tags, stacked up like so many cheep slaps to the face from some cheesy interrogation scene staring James Cagney. Besides, scientists have proven that clicking on the “Forward Message” button contributes to global warming.

So here is the message:

NO GAS…On May 15Th 2007

Don’t pump gas on MAY 15Th

In April 1997, there was a “gas out” conducted nationwide in protest of
gas prices. Gasoline prices dropped 30 cents a gallon overnight.

On May 15Th 2007, all Internet users are to not go to a gas station in
protest of high gas prices. Gas is now over $3.00 a gallon in most

There are 73,000,000+ American members currently on the Internet
network, and the average car takes about 30 to 50 dollars to fill up.

If all users did not go to the pump on the 15Th, it would take
$2,292,000,000.00 (that’s almost 3 BILLION) out of the oil companies
pockets for just one day, so please do not go to the gas station on May
15Th and lets try to put a dent in the Middle Eastern oil industry for
at least one day.

If you agree (which I cant see why you wouldn’t) resend this to all your
contact list. With it saying, ”Don’t pump gas on May 15Th”

Now let’s dissect it. And I’m so hopping, eye rolly mad, I’m not even going to use anesthesia.

In April 1997, there was a “gas out” conducted nationwide in protest of
gas prices. Gasoline prices dropped 30 cents a gallon overnight.

I can’t find any evidence of this. What’s the source of this data? Did the price fall 30¢ over night nation wide or just at Earl’s Corner Gas N’ Go? In fact, I can’t find where it has fallen this much over night ever. It’s a big drop and likely to have been noticed.

On May 15Th 2007, all Internet users are to not go to a gas station in
protest of high gas prices. Gas is now over $3.00 a gallon in most

The negative command is painful enough, but…my bumper sticker cerebral lobe logic tells me high prices should be a good thing as it means people will drive less, produce less greenhouse gases, reduce global warming and bring about world peace and the long promised utopia. Why the protest? Bring it on! All things connected to fuel prices be damned.

There are 73,000,000+ American members currently on the Internet
network, and the average car takes about 30 to 50 dollars to fill up.

“Member”, eh? Gee, didn’t know I was part of a club. The various research data I was able to google indicated that roughly 40% of these members are children or young adults below the legal driving age. That leaves us with 43 million “members” in a position to fill ‘er up. But, how is it the average cost to fill up a tank of gas is between 30 to 50 dollars? An average would be one number because, well, it’s an average and not a range. So, using the members of the Internet of driving age figure and the average of $30 and $50 ($40) we get a total potential hit to the oil companies of $1,720,000,000. What’s more, the assumption is that this is pure profit for the oil company. There are taxes and costs incurred between the pump in the field and the pump at the gas station – R&D, labor, refining, transportation, etc. All those intervening steps are jobs for regular people with families, needs and dreams. And we all benefit from the taxes.

If all users did not go to the pump on the 15Th, it would take
$2,292,000,000.00 (that’s almost 3 BILLION) out of the oil companies
pockets for just one day, so please do not go to the gas station on May
15Th and lets try to put a dent in the Middle Eastern oil industry for
at least one day.

$2.3 billion is almost $3 billion like Danny DeVito is almost 6 feet tall. Anyway, the potential dent is $1.7 billion assuming 100% pure profit and 100% participation by all those driving Internet members. It’s a lucky election day if 50% from such a large pool of potential “customers” can be troubled to vote. The likelihood of 43 million people remembering to not do something is, in my opinion, negligible. And it is highly unlikely they will forego filling up their gas tanks ever again. They will simply fill up on May 16th. Presto! Zappo! the $1.7 billion is right back in the dreaded oil company’s pocket. Somehow, I don’t think the oil companies will mind, much less notice, they waited a day for the $1.7 billion.

If you really care to put a dent in the ol’ evil doing oil company’s revenues, you’ll need more of an effort. And that effort is likely to inconvenience you or otherwise crimp your lifestyle. For example, don’t drive on May 15th but still go to work and run a few errands. It will mean walking, using public transportation, car pooling or riding one of these (highly recommended!) But hey, don’t stop there. Start swapping out those regular incandescent light bulbs for compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs. And while you’re at it, join the team and track the dent you’re making in the lower left panel of this blog.

I fill up my truck about once every two weeks. So I might accidentally participate in this protest if I happen to not gas up the truck on May 15th. But if I don’t participate, know that I protested for the 7 days before and will likely protest for the 7 days after May 15th. The rest of you slackers will have protested on one day whereas I will have protested on 14 days! Ha! Me feel green.

[Edit History]


Added some thoughts on how to make a difference that really is a difference.


Here are some numbers via George Will:

While oil companies make about 13 cents on a gallon of gasoline, the federal government makes 18.4 cents (the federal tax) and California’s various governments make 40.2 cents (the nation’s third-highest gasoline tax). [Speaker Nancy] Pelosi’s San Francisco collects a local sales tax of 8.5 percent — higher than the state’s average for local sales taxes.

There you have it. The biggest gouger at the pump? Government.


Flying Pig From Seattle, WA

Looks like Eric Jensen of Jensen Musical Instruments “found” my $2,000 deposit. Apparently, “posted no later than March 31st” means “April 16th” on the Jensen business calendar. I’ll find out tomorrow if the bank is impressed. Assuming it’s good, it means a modification to the Jensen Musical Instruments web site. Until Mr. Jensen compensates me for lost interest and the cost of the Jensen Musical Instruments web site, it will stand as a warning to others who may be considering doing business with Mr. Jensen. I have heard privately from several people similarly burned by Mr. Jensen that my efforts to shine light on his business practices have yielded positive results for them as well. To that end, I am satisfied and consider it a small miracle my $2,000 deposit was ever returned.

Refund Check

[Edit History]


Several grammar changes.


Althouse’s Law

[The blue ribbon panel of scientists at the prestigious Java Zen Institute for the Proliferation of Inconsequential Science and Humanities debated long and hard on whether the effects described herein should more appropriately be labeled “Althouse’s Catch,” but in the end settled on “Althouse’s Law.” The simple reason being that law professors ought to have laws named for them. That and a threatened law suit from the Amalgamated Union of Catchers, Baggers, Trappers and Boxers. Since it couldn’t be substantiated that Althouse has caught so much as a single cold in her life, the panel elected to avoid a reckless and litigious war of definitions. Besides, catches should be named after judges. – GPE]

Althouse’s Law: A law of discussions whereby the central point of an argument is increasingly marginalized by exaggerating, accentuating or obsessing on either the example elements of the argument or trivial, yet entertaining, side bars. The most common end result when Althouse’s Law has taken effect in a discussion is that the examples initially used to illustrate the original point or the trivial side bars become themselves the central theme of the argument. The effect of Althouse’s Law is accelerated if the examples or trivial side bars include so called “hot button” references such as breasts, divas or tears.

Similar to Godwin’s Law, when a discussion is trapped by the effects of Althouse’s Law, all meaningful discourse related to the original argument is no longer possible. Left unchecked or unrecognized by those caught in the flow away from the original argument, the extreme and ultimate end of Althouse’s Law results in the unfortunate casting of the unwitting into Althouse’s Vortex1.

Althouse’s Law was named for University of Wisconsin Law Professor Ann Althouse, who’s personal blog was instrumental in elucidating much of the underlying effects described by Althouse’s Law.


1 Althouse’s Vortex is a theoretical blogosphere construct. There is much anecdotal evidence that Althouse’s Vortex exists, however no one has ever returned from having been caught in such a structure so very little is know about its nature. What is know is that those who claim to “get” Althouse generally end up in the Althouse Vortex. There seems to be a force at work in regards to the Althouse Vortex that is similar to determining whether or not one is a “hacker.” You’re not a hacker until someone else, preferably a recognized hacker, calls you a hacker. Likewise, you don’t “get” Althouse unless someone else, preferably someone on the “gets it” list, says you “get” Althouse. This quandary was at the heart of the debate on whether to call the effect defined in this post Althouse’s Law or Althouse’s Catch.

Evidence of having fallen into Althouse’s Vortex usually comes in the form of repeated ad hominem attacks against a particular author even though the attacker may, in fact, agree with the author.

[For the record, I don’t get Althouse. At all. – GPE]


Worthless Words

As was easy to predict, the promise from Eric Jensen of Jensen Musical Instruments to return my $2,000 deposit by March 31 has proven to be just as vacuous as his promise to build an electric cello. Here it is, April 3 and not so much as a penny has been returned.

Lying leech.

I’m amending my demand to say I want my deposit and expenses in the form of a cashiers check. I have zero confidence in the ability of Eric Jensen of Jensen Musical Instruments to act in an ethical manner. Someone suggested he could potentially send another bell and whistle laden package which would be empty and he could then claim he sent cash. Regardless, any future correspondence with Mr. Jensen will be opened before witnesses and on video tape.

Lying, unethical leech.


The Paper It’s Printed On

That’s what this is worth…maybe…

Letter From Jensen - 20070303

The letter was sent priority mail, certified and return receipt. Not sure what that was about. Mr. Jensen gains nothing with some sort of paper trail. Is he trying to demonstrate the sincerity of his intent to refund my deposit? I won’t be holding my breath until March 31st. From my perspective (That would be the one of the customer who is out $2,000.), nothing of substance has changed. In this deal, talk has been cheap and promises empty. I’ve been put off before by such chatter and promises from Mr. Jensen.

Neither will I be altering in the slightest the plans I’ve put in motion. Eight bucks of postal pomp and circumstance hasn’t inspired me to call off the dogs. If Mr. Jensen wants to impress me, he can send my money back, plus interest, and cover the expenses I incurred while trying to get his attention. And remember: the terms are cash. It will save the burden of having to spell my name correctly.


Ripped Off By Eric Jensen And Jensen Musical Instruments

[Edit History]


Something about this letter bugged me even after accounting for the postal pageantry and name misspelling (after first spelling it correctly.) It’s dated February 29th, 2007. Typed on a date that doesn’t exist. Perhaps that’s to match his promise? What calendar is Mr. Jensen looking at? I’m thinking the same one he uses to schedule his delivery commitments. Grateful, I am, there is a March 31st. Although, Mr. Jensen doesn’t specify a year.


Crap For Tots

NBC affiliate AZ Central had a news bit about an apparent down-and-out mom complaining about the quality of the toys her children received from the Toys for Tots program The piece was rather condescending, perhaps even a bit mean spirited, in my opinion. Actually, it was down right snarky.

Talking Head One at the end of the piece accentuates: “Toys for Tots say they gave out 28,000 gifts in Flagstaff this year and only received…twocomplaints….I don’t know what to say about that one.”

Talking Head Two: Yeah.

I know what to say. Two complaints for 28,000 toys doesn’t mean what the Talking Head thinks. That doesn’t translate to near pure satisfaction among the recipients. I would say it is likely that the parents who suffered the humiliation of having made the decision to partake of charity, such as the Toys for Tots program, at this time of year particularly, would more than likely not compound that humiliation by complaining about what they received. I would venture there were others similarly disappointed as was “Jessie” in the news bite. It’s just that they didn’t speak up.

Where did they find “Jessie?” Did she come forward or did the news channel seek her out? Either way, I’d agree with Jessie. What she got was crap while the hand offering the gift was promising something better. The attitude of the well paid Talking Heads, as well as the prevailing sentiment in a thread on the news bit over at Hot Air, is that she’ll take her gruel and damn well better like it.

Wow. She’s returning the toys and going to buy her own. So, why didn’t she buy her own in the first place?

This says more about the Toys for Tots program than it does about Jessie. Is their program so shoddy that a down-and-out mom would rather scrape to find her own presents than accept the junk dispensed by Toys for Tots? To their credit, Toys for Tots will exchange gifts if a parent chooses. But again, what parent would choose to endure the same humilation twice? Perhaps they think all the toys are of such quality and an exchange would be meaningless. We’re not told by the Talking Head how many of the 28,000 gifts were exchanged.

My take on listening to Jessie is not that she’s complaining for herself but for her children. Working on the assumption that her children would receive something worth about $10 (still a paltry sum in today’s market), she likely didn’t shop for gifts. Now, at the 11th hour, she has to deal with the disappointment of her children. Speaking from experience, some free “gifts”, like free advice, do more harm than good.

I don’t know how the Toys for Tots program works exactly, but it seems to be a bit of a roll of the dice on what you get. Will it be age or even gender appropriate? What prevents the parents from knowing what is in the package? It would likely make for better matches between gift and child.

And what of the donor? If the value if the gift is supposed to be around $10, what the hell were they thinking by tossing $1 gifts in the donation bin? And why did the Toys for Tots volunteers event bother wrapping them when they could plainly see the value was a paltry 97¢? May the donor receive 97¢ worth of coal this Christmas.


Emergency Almost-Preparedness

Folks in the neighborhood are starting to dig out. My neighbor’s dog, Cher, is loving the weather as well as free reign over the streets.


And then there is the ever steady Jasmine, inspecting my work on the driveway.


Thought I was prepared for the storm, with a good stock of the essentials (beer and chocolate) until my neighbor returned from a mini odyssey to three separate grocery stores to find his version of essentials (chips, chips and…oh, yeah, chips). He happened to mention about half the gasoline stations were out of gas and closing up. Then it dawns on me (Wow! Two sunrises in one day!) that there is only about a 1/4 tank in the truck. The tankers aren’t likely to be making it through this snow for a few days and then it’s Christmas. So, I saddled up my trusty steed (Chained up, actually. All four wheels, no less.) and off I went to fill ‘er up. I found a station close by with gas and on the way there and back passed about a half dozen cars – sedans, mind you – stuck in the snow with people trying to push their way out. Fools. FOOLS! This is Colorado, not Florida. When it snows, you need something like this:


“Protector”, my war pony.


I.E., Not A Browser

I’ve been using Mozilla’s Firefox web browser as the default web browser on all my computers since version 0.6 and rarely have occasion to use that other popular browser. Even less rare is using that other browser to look at my own blog. Today was a rare day and I noticed some cosmetic problems due to the way that other browser fails to properly handle HTML/CSS. Well, the JZ:TOL template has been adjusted to accommodate that other popular, yet crippled, web browser. Enjoy.


Ripped Off By Eric Jensen And Jensen Musical Instruments

I’ve been fighting a number of battles over the past 6 months or more. I’ve also let a few dings go unanswered. Like the General says, you have to pick your battles. It looks to be time for releasing some of these into the wild. As I found with Cherubim Foundation, some folks just don’t respond to common sense, fairness and decency until they realize the rock they’ve slithered under has been turned over, exposing them to the light of day and the view of the world.

Today, the rock I’m flipping over is the one under which Eric Jensen and his business, Jensen Musical Instruments, are hiding. This leech, Eric Jensen of Jensen Musical Instruments, robbed me of $2,000.

Last February, I signed a contract for a custom built electric cello and put down better than half the money. I had done my home work and researched a number of potential vendors over the course of 3 months before deciding on Eric Jensen of Jensen Musical Instruments. I consider myself a pretty sharp Internet buyer and have never lost so much as a dime due to a fraudulent transaction conducted over the Internet. I’ve been shopping on-line for over 8 years. The BBB said Eric Jensen of Jensen Musical Instruments was good, a number of professional musicians credit Eric Jensen of Jensen Musical Instruments on their CD’s and I had a good conversation with Eric Jensen of Jensen Musical Instruments on the phone where we discussed instrument options and such.

Even so, just how many crooks bank on getting rich by flipping phony electric stringed instruments? The electric cello niche has to be pretty damn small. It’s a small market and if you run a bad deal your reputation will suffer. Or at least it should. That’s the purpose behind this post. I doubt I’ll ever seem my $2,000 again, but I sure don’t want Eric Jensen of Jensen Musical Instruments sucking on anyone else.

But the Internet wasn’t the problem. Eric Jensen of Jensen Musical Instruments could have ripped me off just as easily if he had a shop here in Denver. But he is in Seattle which complicates the idea of making a visit. The leech no doubt had this in mind as he negotiated the theft of my $2,000.

Follow the links to learn the details about Eric Jensen of Jensen Musical Instruments. I have an attorney working on this to explore the consequences of the leech having conducted such a transaction over the Internet, across state lines and such. I’d like to shut down his web site (which I won’t link to) but until I get some kind of judgment this doesn’t look to be possible. Does anyone know anything different about shutting down a web site?

So you know, I have since acquired an electric cello. It’s a beautiful 6 string instrument from Ned Steinberger. The Steinberger was my second choice only because the vapor-instrument from Eric Jensen of Jensen Musical Instruments was pitched as having a few bells and whistles which I liked a little better. In addition, the non-existent Eric Jensen of Jensen Musical Instruments vapor-instrument was alleged to be slightly smaller and thus easier to travel with (a major purpose for acquiring an electric cello in the first place.)

The Steinberger cello is a beautiful instrument and the customer service from both NS Design and their recommended vendor was outstanding. The Steinberger cello deserves its own post in the near future.

By the way, did I mention that the leech which stole $2,000 from me was Eric Jensen of Jensen Musical Instruments? What the leech doesn’t know and certainly doesn’t care about is that this is money from Janet’s life insurance policy. Money I set aside exclusively to bring music back into my life. The fucker stole blood money and may his wretched business life suffer the curse of psychotic customers until he returns my money and re-reimburses me for my expenses. I tried to do business on your terms, leech, but you failed. So now you are doing battle on my terms. Cash only, leech.

[Edit History]


See update post:

The Paper It’s Printed On


Steal This Lunch

Go ahead. I dare you. From the New York Times:

For those with autonomy in their jobs – generally, well-paid professionals – breast-feeding, and the pumping it requires, is a matter of choice. It is usually an inconvenience, and it may be an embarrassing comedy of manners, involving leaky bottles tucked into briefcases and brown paper bags in the office refrigerator.

I think what creeps people out, and by people I mean “guys”, about this is that it’s stuff which was once inside someone’s body and now is on the outside. Most generally, when this happens, it’s not a good thing, ranging on a scale from unpleasant (“Earl, there’s something on your nose.”) to disgusting (“Earl, that looks infected.”) to flat out horrifying (“Somebody get a tourniquet around Earl’s torso fast!”).

To most, there’s nothing cute about a baby burp, especially as the count rises over time. Although Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes might go gaga over baby’s goo goo given their propensity for collecting trophy excretions. What’s worse, from a guys perspective, is the stuff is being saved. And for non-clinical reasons at that. Imagine a bag labeled “Earl’s sputum. DO NOT TAKE!” or “Earl’s sperm. DO NOT TAKE!” parked in the office refrigerator right next to your egg salad sandwich.

That’s how guys think about it. Of course, babies think otherwise. They have yet to be bent by our convoluted, contradictory and puritanical social conventions. They have yet to be pressured by peers and crushed by the protuberant herd in their journey from self expression to self repression.

Personally, this doesn’t bug me. My perspective is rather pragmatic on these things, the result of having grown up with five sisters, three of whom followed my mother into nursing careers, and supporting my late wife, Janet, through 10 years of battling breast cancer. These experiences left scant room for mystery in regard to what women have to deal with while growing up and trying to forge a career.

Pump away girls, it bugs me not.

A discussion thread is happening about this article over on Althouse (H/T, by the way).

[Edit History]


Fixed klutzy sentence.


Edited for clarity.


Updated dead link to Tom and Katie’s trophy.


Jason Leopold Reaps The Whirlwind

There was something in Joe Laurias’ Washington Post column wherein he dings Jason Leopold, “My Unwitting Role in the Rove ‘Scoop’“, that has me thinking.

Leopold is a product of a narcissistic culture that has not stopped at journalism’s door, a culture facilitated and expanded by the Internet.

This begs the questions, how was it this narcissistic culture came to be? There isn’t an easy answer to this question, but I would start looking for tracks around the politically correct camps, the bullshit agendas entrenched in our public schools and the fallout from have-it-instantly disposable consumerism relentlessly driven by increasingly sophisticated mass marketing. The alter of political correctness demands blind faith in following the path of guilt and punishes critical thinking and skepticism. From the earliest age possible, young minds are steeped in this rancid tea in our public school system. After 12 years of this, out pops a walnut ready to get it now, chew it up and spit it out.

Leopold’s life appears to be a story of instant gratification – get the cocaine high now no matter the cost, get the story euphoria now no matter the tactics. I wouldn’t call his life a tragedy, its just pathetic. He has had his instant gratification at our expense and will be chewed up and very soon spit out to the gutter. He has my pity, the little I can muster, but nothing else. There would be more if he could but reclaim his responsibility in this mess. Sadly, he seem to lack this capability as well. After having been completely exposed, he shamelessly works to cloak his sloppy “reporting” in shallow words. He is the epitome of the cut-and-paste mentality and those of his ilk are dangerous indeed.

Jason Leopold’s offence was egregious and his unmasking should be ruthless. That he has done great harm to those who strive to report the news should never be forgotten or forgiven lest others choose his path. Let him find the sympathy he deserves in drug rehabilitation and therapy. He is young and can forge a new career, assuming he can clean up his life. A long tour of duty doing one of those jobs it is claimed Americans refuse to do may serve to realign his bent sense of responsibility.

[Edit History]

2006.06.19 – It seems Karl Rove is still about to be indicted. After careful review, Capt. Smith of the USS Truthout has reconfirmed the re-verification that there cannot be any icebergs in the water around him and therefore that thing their boat rammed into couldn’t have been an iceberg and therefore they didn’t hit what ever it was that wasn’t there. Well, we’ll just have to wait and see if the imminent indictment of Karl Rove continues to not happen or not.


Making Pretty Pigs

From the people who brought you “getting ahead of the news cycle,” We now have several freshly minted euphemisms to help us in our daily battle to dodge responsibility from our “mis-appropriated” squeals and rants. Yes, the cache of cosmetics available to us for prettying up our warty hogs has just grown by two. No longer are we limited to simply putting lipstick on our pigs.

Back in May, Jason Leopold with “reported” that Karl Rove would be indicted in the CIA leak case and that he would then immediately resign his White House job once the charges were announced. For months leading up to this…ummmm…broken story, Leopold and truthout had been hyping the imminent indictment of Rove. And for months, much to the frustration of Leopold and truthout, the indictment kept not happening. And so it continued. In the hours and days after Leopold broke the news on truthout, the indictment kept not happening. Even so, some of the MSM was sucked into this scoop of slop. Truth out. Reality in. No indictment.

Finally, buried within the comments sections of truthout’s web site was a kind-of-sort-of retraction whining about having “gotten ahead of the news cycle.” Translation: “We wanted this wish to come true soooooooo much we marshaled all our journalistic sources for news substrate to focus on this issue and so extract the truth: our crystal ball, under cover garden faeries and the magic 8-ball – we even threw the runes! And our sources told us Rove would be indicted.” Or, to put it more succinctly, truthout pulled the truth out of its collective ass and peddled it as fact.

This past week the last remaining pebbles of ground beneath truthout’s feet gave way as it was announced that Special Counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald told Rove’s attorney that Rove will not be indicted in the CIA leak investigation. Jason Leopold and truthout have jumped both the shark and the couch in a single bound. Impressive.

Yesterday, on a front page post, truthout retracted their story…sort of.

Instead of saying “we were wrong and you were right,” truthout says “there is a major contradiction between our version of the story and what was reported.” (Note to Mr. Leopold and truthout: facts don’t have versions. You’ve confused them with opinions.)

Instead of saying “we are retracting our lame new story,” truthout says they are “going to stand down on the Rove matter at this time.” Stand down? Sounds like they have legions of news reporters who will now holster their pens (They don’t have pencils. Those eraser thingies are waaaaaay too dangerous.) At this time? I guess they reserve the right to spill their version of the news on this matter at some point in the future, based on their sources, of course.

Finally, you gotta love this: “We defer instead to the nation’s leading publications.” Translation: “If its news you want, go somewhere else. We don’t do news.”

And so, my friends, we now have at our disposal the following cosmetics for our boarish flubs:

  • We got ahead of the news cycle.

  • There is a major contradiction between our version of the story and what was reported.

  • We’re going to stand down on this story.

Use as needed, then exit stage left.

[Edit History]

2006.06.17 – Tim Blair has similar notes.

2006.06.18 – Jason Leopold gets spanked pretty good by Joe Lauria in the Washington Post.

Modern Day Marshalsea

While on a recent trip I found myself short of cash. “Not to worry,” me thinks. “A convenient cash advance from my credit card and all will be set right.” And so it was, until I got my credit card bill. I hadn’t done any kind of cash advance for years, as in 15 years. Having learned early about the black pit that is “Credit Card Debt,” I vowed to myself as a young lad never to fall into that dark, unholy place again. Since that day, I’ve paid my credit card balance in full each month.

But there are new rules (new to me, anyway) about cash advances. Not only do you pay a “fee” for the cash advance transaction, $20 in my case, but the damn thing is subject to immediate and Draconian finance charges. Check out the APR put in place by a simple cash advance:


It would seem with the recent changes in bankruptcy laws (aggressively lobbied for by the banking and credit card industry) and the ability to jack interest rates to such obscene levels, the credit card industry has successfully pilfered the signage above the very gates of Hell: “All hope abandon, ye who enter here!” All the more reason to be mindful of the benefits of hard work and grateful I can pay my balance in full each month.


Venté No-Whip

It started immediately. From almost my very first visit to Starbucks. “I’d like a venté no-whip mocha, please.”

Better than 80% of the time, what would show up is venté mocha all right, but with a blast of foul tasting whip cream floating on the top. Some shops would make good and mix a new mocha as requested. Others would extend the effort with a coupon for a free drink. Still others fell below the service quality mark by simply scraping off the sludge and re-capping the drink. Hoooooonk. Wrong answer. Thanks for playing.

With “solution” on my mind, I tried making my request in several ways. “I’d like a venté [long pause] NO WHIP [long pause to let the phrase sink in] mocha.” Success improved, but failures still occurred about 30% of the time. “I’d like a venté mocha, and could you please leave the whip cream off of that?” “Huh?” came the reply if I was lucky. Failures occurred about 60% of the time. Apparently, this one violates the 7+- 2 rule1. Too many words and the “barista” looses the information on the front of the sentence.

There is some kind of business theorem buried in this experience. The “No Whip Maxim for Customer Service”. I’ll have to develop this idea, write a book and hit the chat show circuit.

The patrons can be a bit numb as well. I’ve had my drink lifted by auto-piloted patrons. “Oh, that’s yours? I thought your extra large mocha looked like my puny Double Decaf Half Mashed Iced Caramel Macchiato.” Go eat a rock.

Gad, I’m starved for a decent coffee house within a reasonable drive of my house. My favorite haunt, The Market, has become too cumbersome to reach on a regular basis, what with all the T-Rex construction along I-25. Will I have to create this myself? If I must, guarantee there will be no aerosol whip cream in the place.
1The Magical Number Seven, Plus or Minus Two: Some Limits on Our Capacity for Processing Information, George A. Miller, The Psychological Review, 1956, vol. 63, pp. 81-97

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