Entries Tagged as ''


Cash not king on JetBlue

No Gravatar

Prior to this past Saturday, it had been awhile since I’d flown — over a couple of years to be exact. My streak of being landlocked changed when I decided to visit my friend Diane out in Chicago to take in a Cubs game at Wrigley Field, arguably the most historic sporting venue in our country, albeit one without championship pedigree. I flew out on JetBlue, breezing through security and into the waiting gate in less than 20 minutes, proving that it does pay to travel light and I’m not just talking about those extra fees either.

I sat down on the plane to get comfortable with my complementary television and self-provided headphones when I was surprised to hear what the captain said about beverage service. Naturally, the alcoholic beverages on the flight would be available for purchase, but he said that the flight… did not accept cash.

Come again? Since when is any business in America, especially one involved in the struggling airline business, in a position to refuse taking money?  I’m not sure what the logistics behind it are, though maybe there’s a good reason for it. However, let’s be serious. If a passenger wants to pay their hard-earned currency and hand it over, who is the airline to refuse? It sounds slightly ridiculous. I’ve heard of places like bodegas and delis saying that they accept “cash only,” but this is the first time I’ve ever seen “plastic only” come into play.

There was no alcohol in my future, though. I ordered a free ginger ale… which the flight attendant forgot to bring me.

Fred's dreams


No Gravatar

July 11, 2006
I dream I am in a tee shirt and underpants with Gail and Deborah in an enormous house. Gail shows me a group picture of a country club with Hitler in his horse riding clothing. Houdini, the escape artist, is also in the picture but he is on the ground. He isn’t dead or anything, but I am disturbed that Hitler is around and about doing equestrian events while Houdini, my brother magician and Jew, is on the ground. Gail wonders what I am upset about, and I explain it to her. Then, Gail shows me some Nazi cartoons. [Read more →]

conversations with Paula and Robertrace & culture

Racist behavior, or racist person?

No Gravatar

Paula: What do you think about the tendency to label someone racist based on a particular comment or singular behavior? Is one slip of the tongue enough to make someone a racist?


 Robert: I do not think it’s fair to label someone racist based on a particular comment. In fact, I see a racial gap over the meaning of allegations of racism. Not just a gap in what blacks label racist and what whites label racist (that gap is understandable). But a gap between what it means when a black person calls someone else’s speech or act “racist” vs. what white liberals and others think that means. [Read more →]

fashion & clothingrace & culture

Is the “Fashion Industry” racist?

No Gravatar

In a recent article on ABC News, a fashion photographer by the name of Nick Knight made his feelings about “racism” in the fashion industry known by creating a short, silent film starring the anger-management-impaired model Naomi Campbell and a pair of Uzi pistols.

What we have here is not a cry against injustice; it is another attempt to play the racism card to gain notoriety.

Why isn’t there an outcry for American Indian, Fillipino, Inuit or Pakistani women? It is not because they are less deserving; it is because they don’t have a powerful lobby in their corner.

Interesting, but ultimately unimportant.

The answer to this problem lies not in the racial sensibilities of the fashion and cosmetic industries, but in the accountants’ ledgers of the marketing firms that create the demand for the products.

The only colors that matter here are black and red, not black and white.


Writers wanted

No Gravatar

Are you a blogger? A writer? Can you be funny, entertaining, and intriguing while dishing out opinions about current events, politics, culture, everyday life, or any of the many topics we cover? If so, visit our submissions page.

Fred's dreams


No Gravatar

August 6, 2008
I dream I foresee my bald head and it has on it a profusion of disgusting moles. I am glad I still have hair to cover it. In the meantime, I am at a bodega in New York purchasing a coffee before I meet Gail, and the man behind the counter sells me two naked lady playing cards in addition to the coffee. Because of the shallowness of my pockets, the tops of the playing cards stick out and undoubtedly Gail will see them. I think of my excuse — I bought them for camp value and not for prurient reasons. [Read more →]

fashion & clothingphotography

Everyone wants to be a model!

No Gravatar

If you had asked me, a couple of months ago, what I thought of models and modeling, my response would have been to sneer.

Models were those vacuous, anorexic, self-absorbed girls whose only claim to fame was the ability to cake chemicals on their faces and strut down a runway, secure in the belief that the world revolved around them.

[



No Gravatar

It’s time for a few quick observations about the 2008 Olympics.

Michael Phelps is of course the story of these games, setting 7 world records as he won 8 gold medals, the most golds ever for any athlete in a single Olympics.

He brings his lifetime haul to 16 medals (14 gold and 2 bronze). The only person to ever have more medals is Soviet gymnast Larissa Latynina, who earned 18 total medals (9 gold, 5 silver, 4 bronze) over the course of three Olympics (’56, ’60, ’64). Expect Phelps to eclipse her mark in 2012, as he is only 23 years old. If you’d care to see his astonishing 12,000 calorie-per-day diet, you can find it here.

[


Cell Block

No Gravatar

These cell phone companies are going to be in for some trouble one day when someone doesn’t receive a voice mail message on time. Can you imagine waking up one day to receive some big, potentially life changing news, only to realize that the news is a few days old?  Depending on the circumstances, things could get messy.

Here’s a harmless example of that. I had off this past Thursday, so I called my mother to see if she would let me hang out at her place for a bit. A few hours passed and I didn’t hear from her, so I decided to just drive home anyway to beat traffic and hope things would be ok. As I was driving by my apartment building searching for a place to park, I saw my mother walking in, so I knew all was well. When I got upstairs, mom told me that she had just left me a voice mail saying that it was, indeed, ok for me to visit. She left me that message around 4 PM on Thursday… I received it around 11 PM on Saturday.

To my knowledge, my mother doesn’t have any special powers that would allow her to manipulate the AT&T network, so I’m chalking it up to the company’s error. Think about it though — down the road, someone could miss out on important, time sensitive information like an illness in their family or a potential job interview. It sounds like a recipe for a lawsuit to me.

books & writingpolitics & government

A libertarian view on the “clustering” of the like-minded

No Gravatar

In a transient, mobile, pseudo-egalitarian society such as modern America, it makes sense that the population would self-segregate by interest and familiarity to some degree. It’s not wrong. It’s human nature.

[

language & grammar


No Gravatar

The growing misuse of the apostrophe is reaching catastrophic proportions. Sometimes they’re common errors — it’s for its. Although the distinction between the meaning and use of these words is clear enough, they’re both real words, so we’d expect some people to not know which is which, just as some people apparently don’t know the difference between there and their and lose and loose.

Some apostrophe errors are wild and bewildering, and we’re seeing them more and more. For some reason, people are putting apostrophes before the ‘s’ in plural words: “Just wait till the boy’s come home.” I don’t know why anyone would think an apostrophe is needed when a word is made plural. One time, at a pizza place, on a scrolling electronic sign, I was informed that french fries’ were on the menu. Although most of us would never make that particular error, we all make mistakes when typing quick e-mails. However, many of these errors are showing up on printed material and painted signs. Look around for a couple of days and you’re bound to find some egregious examples of catpostrophe, on the sides of trucks, newspaper ads, and brochures. Aren’t there proofreaders looking for work somewhere?

Anyway, you’d have to search far and wide to find a catpostrophe as bad as this one, painted on the side of a building on the boardwalk at Ocean City, Maryland, the letters two feet high:

Photo credit: Jared Boshnack

Fred's dreams


No Gravatar

August 6, 2006
I dream I am in a truck that transforms into a gurney, and I find myself in a combination Home Depot and Jewish Community Center. I am slowly ascending staircases and heading towards a door. When my gurney hits the door I don’t make it through. A nearby gurney suddenly flies straight up into the air and I fear that my gurney is going next. Fortunately, my gurney tries the door again. On the other side of the door I am high above a huge indoor warehouse space filled with corded wood, water heaters, and boxes of large appliances. While there are no tracks, I fly up and down through this environment as if it were a roller coaster. I find I have limited steering ability.

[


Vive Americans!

No Gravatar

For some casual sports fans, the Beijing Olympics can be hard to get into. Sure, we’re down with the mainstream sports like basketball and softball, but swimming, rowing and the like? Yes, it’s easy for some people to get up for them every four years, but not all. In those cases, it takes a little extra to pique the interest of the masses … like the good ol’ patriotism that can only be engineered by some foreigner talking smack about Americans. Leave it to a French swimmer to shoot his mouth off.

“The Americans? We’re going to smash them,” said Alain Bernard before being fed a steaming pile of crow by the United States 4×100 relay team, specifically comeback kid Jason Lezak, who earned every bit of that nickname on the last leg of the race despite being 32 years old. Bernard and his teammates can act like losing by a “fingertip” wasn’t a big deal, and really, a silver medal isn’t anything to sneeze at. But when you’re thisclose to victory … that kind of pain translates into any language.

The loss wasn’t for naught though — it motivated at least one bar full of karaoke singing, beer drinking patrons to stop their activities to cheer for the U.S. in unison. I never thought I’d say this, but thank goodness for the French.

books & writingconversations with Paula and Robert

Are writers reading any of this stuff?

No Gravatar

Robert: I’ve been thinking about the amazing number of online sites and magazines out there. Do you think people who write for these sites actually read the work of others on those sites? I’m sensing we’re in the “I write for it but don’t read it” era of writing and publishing. Perhaps it has always been thus. I don’t know if most contributors to academic publications read most of the work in the publications they write for … am I wrong? Yet now the proliferation of sites makes the imbalance between writing and reading more pronounced. And of course there is the question of whether there is anything wrong with this emphasis on production and writing as opposed to reading? As a teacher, I too am emphasizing writing more than reading, trying to get my students to write their way into engaging a subject. Any thoughts on this?


  Paula: You raise a point that does have application to myself. I write for lots of journals, both print and online, and I certainly don’t read everything in those journals. [Read more →]

Fred's dreams


No Gravatar

May 25, 2008
I dream I am sleeping in my old bed in Northeast Philadelphia and I wake up to see a man I don’t know in the house. I am not angry or scared, but I want to know who the man is. He answers politely, though evasively. This basic situation happens three times with different people in different versions of my old house. Eventually, I run wildly looking for secret entrances to discover where these people are coming in. Later in the day I meet one of them in a deli line, and beat him with a lighting fixture that I wield like a mace. I can see on the television that Conan O’Brien is preparing to play the male lead in a post-modern production of Gypsy.

[

sportstrusted media & news

Olympic Reporters in China

No Gravatar

Some things speak for themselves:

In 2001, when the International Olympic Committee (IOC) awarded the 2008 games to China, Wang Wei, the leader of China’s bid told reporters: “We will give the media complete freedom to report when they come to China.”

But for many reporters there now, it’s still unclear how free they will be able to report or not, as the restrictions and red tape seem almost endless, and they never know whether they’ve covered all their bases. “We already have to tell the Chinese everywhere we want to be in August, and what time,” one TV broadcaster, who preferred to remain anonymous, recently told the Associated Press. “We have to provide a list of the guests who will be interviewed and the content of the interview.”

That is, some things speak for themselves where permitted. [Read more →]

his & herspolitics & government

McCain ad: hide your white women from Obama

No Gravatar

A recent John McCain television ad attempts to depict Barack Obama as a “celebrity” on the order of Britney Spears and Paris Hilton, who make brief appearances in the ad, long enough — the McCain admen hope — for the average American, never a too discerning individual, to formulate somewhere in his often numbskull brain a few blurry equations. If these ads did not actually “define” candidates, as the admen intend (in this case that Obama is an “elitist,” whatever that means and whatever effect it has on his ability to govern), they would be laughable for the adolescent perspective from which they emerge. Not that history hasn’t shown that such ads don’t work; they apparently do: think Willie Horton and John Kerry. 

Political campaigns as played by the Republicans is a pretty nasty business; no tactic is low, cynical or pernicious enough as long as it can sway a voter away from the opposition. [Read more →]