Archive for the ‘culture’ Category

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Obligatory Black Friday Stampede Death Post

December 2, 2008

I know I’m more than a few days late on this.  I apologize, but I’ve been a little busy with other stuff.  But hey, better late than never:

Having worked in retail for over a decade, and witnessing my share of craziness on Black Friday (years ago, I remember telling myself that I had lost hope in humanity the day I saw one sweet old lady shove another over a free clock radio), I figured that I better comment on this.  

I was getting my daily dose of talk radio the day after it happened, and as usual, there were quite a few opinions about who was to blame and questions about what would drive such madness, but there was something that I didn’t hear anyone point out.  That is, the notion that this wasn’t “stuff” that people were jockeying for.  This was money

Here’s the thing.  Assume for a second that you’re predisposed to buy a 50″ plasma TV.  You’re going to buy one.   Assume again that the regular cost is $1600.  So, if a local retailer is advertising that they can get this same TV for $800 if you’re one of the first people through the doors at 5 AM, you’re not racing for the TV.  You’re racing for the other $800. 

So, for the sake of making a point, imagine that your local bank put out an advertisement that said that they’re giving away stacks of cash, and you’ll get it if you’re one of the first people through the door.  Does anyone have any illusions about what kind of mob scene they’d have on their hands?  I don’t think so.  I would think that any rational person might even suggest that the bank make sure that they have police donning riot gear on hand.  Now, if the bank had no preparation, and in the chaos someone got trampled to death.  Does one blame the mob, or the stupid people at the bank? 

At what point does a “door buster” sale become as dangerous as yelling “FIRE” in a crowded theater? 

Now, I know that the “stacks of cash” may be an exaggeration of an example, and I’m sure that there are a certain number of shoppers out there that are more motivated by some bragging rights than pure greed, but the point is that there are certain precautions that these retailers need to take in the way of crowd control if they’re going to do this sort of thing.  There’s certainly no excuse for being taken by surprise, since I  watched it get a little worse year after year (at least from where I was sitting).

I know what you’re thinking.  Like “OK genius, what would YOU do to control the mob?”  And I’d naturally segue into what we did at our store, which actually worked quite well.  You see, instead of handling the customers in a chaotic reaction to a metaphorical dam-breaking (like obviously happened at this WalMart), we’d catch the customers as they came in the parking lot.  We’d have greeters out there early, meeting people as they came in.  We’d talk to them, ask what items they intended on purchasing, and gave them a voucher for those items.  And since we only had as many vouchers for each item as we had items, there was no risk of people fighting over them.  No voucher, no item.  Customers could take off, have breakfast, and come back and pick up their thing.  Does it ruin the “thrill” of chaotic holiday shopping?  Probably.  But, heck, no one died at least.

Anyway, one really has to wonder what the hell these employees at the WalMart must have been thinking to themselves as they saw the mob of a couple thousand people gather outside.  I’m guessing that, at some point, the management realized that they had gotten a little over their heads. But what did they do?  Because they obviously didn’t adequately prepare for what came barging down their doors, I’m inclined to blame WalMart for the tragedy (unlike the hosts of my local FM talk show).

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Filed Under “What The….?”

April 20, 2008

I can’t believe people get paid (a lot more than me, I would guess) to do this stuff:

I’ll just never understand.

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Top 5 Karaoke Songs If You’re A Guy Who Can’t Sing

January 15, 2008

Have you ever been out for drinks with friends or co-workers on karaoke night?  Chances are, you have.  It never fails:  The drinks start flowing, the music is playing, and eventually someone in the group gets dared to go up on stage and risk the potential embarrassment of revealing that they can’t carry a tune to save their life.  In those situations, one is faced with the tough no-win decision to either be the party pooper or endure the nerve-wracking experience. 

Having faced this situation several times myself, I felt compelled to search for “safe” songs, i.e. songs that virtually anyone can sing, while being something the audience will enjoy and possibly even sing along with.   This can be a real lifesaver, as it gives you the opportunity to not only avoid humiliation,  but rather to bring the proverbial house down. When you’re done, you’ll confidently thumb your nose at the Julio Iglesias wannabe sitting across the bar while high fiving your friends.    So without further ado, here are my top 5:

1. Warren ZevonWerewolves of London  The lyrics are more spoken than they are sung, so all you have to do is make sure you have a decent “a-ooo!”, and you’re set.  And while you probably won’t be able to dance around with a cue stick ala Tom Cruise in The Color of Money, you might want to find a good-looking female to direct your attention to when the “his hair was perfect” line comes up, for added style points (assuming you aren’t wearing a hat, or bald). 

2. ZZ TopSharp Dressed Man  This song is especially fun if you just got off work and you’re still in your suit and/or tie, so if you got it, flaunt it.    You’re responsible for a grand total of about 2 notes, so even the most tone-deaf of us out there should be able to hack through this song without a problem.  Feel free to do the ZZ “point” during the guitar solo.

3. George Thorogood & the DestroyersBad To The Bone  No matter how b-b-b-b-b-bad your singing skills might be, you’ll probably be able to handle this one.  Instant bar cred, too.   If you’re feeling less “bad” and more, um, “drunk”, try to avoid I Drink Alone …Wouldn’t be prudent, after all.

4. Dire StraitsSultans of Swing  Unlike Money For Nothing, this cut doesn’t have a long intro, so you can avoid standing uncomfortably in front of everyone while you wait for your part to begin.   Even better, it’s probably easier to sing anyway.  Beware of the urge to play air guitar on the outro, however. 

5.  Boz SkaggsLido Shuffle  If you ever saw Boz perform live (check the link), you’d see that the guy ain’t that great of a singer himself, so it is perfectly acceptable to sound like a drunken sailor during this classic.   Also, there’s a good chance that the rest of the bar will help you out during the chorus, so you probably won’t have to worry about hitting all the notes (if you aren’t confident of your ability, go ahead skip a few of them; Boz does).  Depending on where you are, and what time it is, the “one more for the road” line could really go over well too.  

I hope this helps.  Just keep these selections in mind before the buzz gets the better of you, and you decide to do something stupid and bite off more than you can chew with a selection like Journey’s Don’t Stop Believin’.  Trust me, I’ve made that mistake.

Also see: Shortcuts: How to sing karaoke

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Please…No More OJ

September 19, 2007

I just turned on Fox and CNN* to discover the press conference with Simpson’s attorney taking place (LIVE!).  Other than the fact that I was a little curious who the toothless moron with the “OJ 07” shirt standing next to him was, I’m dismayed that this is getting so much attention.  Not surprised, just dismayed.  I’m afraid that this will be our national distraction for the next year or so.

And as further evidence of our screwed up priorities, check out this headline:  Most Voters Say Election 2008 is Annoying and a Waste of Time

Oh well…

*So far it looks like Fox is a little more obsessed with this than CNN, for what it’s worth.

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RIP Luciano Pavarotti

September 6, 2007

As you might have seen in the news, one of the famous “3 Tenors”, Luciano Pavarotti, has passed away.  Now, I’m not going to sit here and say that I’m a huge opera fan, but I’ll never forget the amazing final act performance he delivered at the Olympic Opening Ceremony in Torino last year.  It actually brought a tear to my eye (no kidding).

Following the performance, host Bob Costas described Pavarotti’s finale by saying he “brought the house down”.

Indeed.

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ChenZhen’s Fantasy Football Roster

September 4, 2007

Since I didn’t really feel like blogging about Larry Craig again, I decided that tonight’s entry will be a little more on the lighter side.  I’ve been in this fantasy football league for years.  It started out as a league formed by a group of coworkers.  We’ve been at it long enough that none of us are actually coworkers anymore, so it serves as a way to keep in touch with some old pals too.  It’s a partial “keeper” league (we keep our best 4 and draft the rest).  Here’s the breakdown:

Read the rest of this entry ?

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Mystery Solved: Stolen Buddha Statue

September 2, 2007

It isn’t often that I include local news here on the blog, but I was a little intrigued by this story:
Elk River woman arrested in theft of Thai Buddha statue

The high demand and soaring prices for scrap metal appeared to be the reason a 7-foot statue of Buddha, covered in copper-laden bronze, was stolen from an outdoor temple shrine at the Thai Buddhist Center of Minnesota, police said.

Police Chief Jeff Beahen said a 45-year-old Elk River woman was arrested Friday night, and a male family member was being looked at as another suspect in the theft.

The statue, valued at $10,000, was stolen Wednesday night, and a detective issued a statewide alert to police and scrap dealers Thursday with a photo of the stolen statue.

Early Friday afternoon, a recycling company in Monticello called the detective, saying they had taken in two pieces of scrap they believed to be from the statue.

I had no idea that there is a black market for scrap metal.  I’m also wondering exactly how someone would steal it.  I mean, the thing must have weighed hundreds of pounds.

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Comedy Gold – The Tale Of The “Wide Stance”

August 30, 2007

I’m just going to follow up on my previous post about Larry Craig, just because I think it’s so damn funny.  The thing I keep chuckling about was the fact that Craig told the undercover airport police officer that the reason his foot had crossed into the adjoining stall was because he had a “wide stance”.  I mean, who poops like that?  I’m just trying to picture it.  It’s pretty funny when you do.  Maybe that in and of itself is “lewd conduct”?  I dunno.

Since I live in Minneapolis, I thought about going down to MSP airport and doing a little “Mythbusters“-style experiment to see just how wide a stance you’d have to have to actually touch the foot of the man in the next stall.  The police report wasn’t too specific about which restroom it was (Northstar Crossing refers to the 100+ restaurants and shops in the Lindbergh terminal), and I’m not sure if I can even get in there (it’s been a while since I’ve flown), so I think I’ve decided against it.  It would make for a funny picture though.

Anyway, speaking of wide stances, The Vikings play another preseason game tonight at 7 PM CST.

Update:  RawStory has the audio of Craig’s arrest where he gives his statement to the officer.  Like I said, comedy gold!

Just the fact that he said “entrapment”, to me, means that he is in fact gay and/or has done that sort of thing before. To claim entrapment basically means “Hey, you were sitting in the stall next to me, what gay man seeking annonymous sex is going to resist that?” LOL

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Filed Under “What The….?”

August 12, 2007

Every so often I might just dump something that I have on my computer onto the blog for no good reason.  This is one of those times….

turtle_car.jpg

Love the backdrop too.  Nice touch.

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Who The Heck Is Johanna Cardona?

August 3, 2007

One check of technorati, and you see this in the “top searches”

  • johanna cardona
  • johana cardona
  • noelia
  • youtube
  • ron paul
  • video johanna cardona
  • video johana cardona
  • cardona
  • studivz
  • video de johana cardona
  • paris hilton
  • facebook
  • bridge collapse
  • iphone
  • costennita
  • Wow. Apparently, some TV personality down in Colombia had her boyfriend’s cell phone sex video leak out.

    After Colombian signaller Johanna Cardona who worked until few days ago in the channel TB3 in the capital of Colombia’s Atlantic Barranquilla ended a relationship with the ex-boyfriend Oscar Crespo, the angry guy put an amateur video, which they filmed the duo having oral sex using a mobile phone under an consensus one year ago, on the internet. According to Johanna Cardona, her ex-boyfriend threatened to make the indecent video public if she would not come back to him. But Oscar Crespo insisted that he had forgot to delete the love-making video on the phone which he sold earlier.

    Johanna Cardona, is the latest self-made sex video victim of Latin American celebrity after Costa Rican singer Noelia whose amateur video, also with ex-boyfriend, was alleged to be leaked on the internet by his step-father.

    Just in case anyone was wondering. Anyway, I won’t link to the sex video, but if you want to see what appears to be her casting video, click here.

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    What Does “Post 9/11 World” Really Mean?

    July 27, 2007

    This is one of those posts that I put out there in the spirit of opening a discussion, rather than hoping to make a specific point.  Or, maybe I do have a point. You decide.

    For the longest time, I thought that just using the phrase “post-9/11 world” was an exercise in giving the terrorist perpetrators too much credit.  After all, why give them the satisfaction of giving them a “world” that they “created”?  Why should we allow the extreme actions of 19 people effect us so?

    What really changed, anyway?  Now we know that we need to lock the cockpit doors of airliners,  and that we should check carry-on items for knives.  That, and we should be wary of people who take flying lessons but aren’t interested in learning how to land the plane.  But beyond that?  Intelligence agencies already knew about al Qaeda and terrorism.  How has the world really changed?

    This is the part where my statements may begin to be unpopular…

    The September 11th attacks, as terrible as they were, were not catastrophic to the country as a whole.  Al Qaeda managed to kill roughly 3,000 people, take out 4 commercial airplanes and destroy two of the world’s tallest buildings.  It was horrifying to watch, and for those directly affected by the tragedy, it is doubtful that their lives will ever be the same.   However, on a scale of the conceivable attacks that the modern world might allow, the actual devastation would appear to be relatively minor.  Terror attacks happen every day.  Some may kill a hundred or so people, while others, like the incident in Glasgow, kill no one (although they still register a fear effect).  But considering the devastation that WMD’s (especially nuclear weapons) would create, I think it’s important to keep things in a sort of cold-hearted perspective.

    I suggest that for this discussion we create a hypothetical scale.  On one end of the spectrum, we would put a Glasgow-level attack, and on the other, a “Jericho” scenario.

    jerichopic.jpg

    On this scale, where would one put the 9/11 attacks?  My guess is it would certainly be closer to Glasgow than Jericho.  A lot closer.  The Jericho scenario would have an effect on Americans that would be quite tangible.  Even if you weren’t killed in the attack itself, the effect on your life would undoubtedly be significant.  It’s a scenario that would effectively reduce America to a 3rd world country.  In fact, the only Americans that wouldn’t be tangibly effected by this kind of an attack would be the Amish (although that is even debatable).  In contrast, the effect of 9/11 was more in the collective mindset of Americans than anything else.  Wall Street took a short timeout, as did air traffic. For the vast majority of Americans, however, life went on as usual after about a week.  We went shopping, played baseball, and watched TV just as we did on 9/10.  It’s a stretch, but if you pretend that the actual devastation of 9/11 was the result of a freak accident, it would have been a relatively small blip on the screen of history.

    While it is clear that a “post-Jericho” world would be a very different world, what does a “post-9/11” world really mean?  I don’t want to downplay 9/11, but considering the possibilities that are out there that could really change our world, perhaps we are giving the phrase too much weight.  In reality, we may be giving al Qaeda what they wanted as well.

    BTW- In case you’re curious as to what inspired this post, I’d have to say that it was the literally the back of a  DVD jewel case (the Running Man DVD contains a special feature entitled “Lockdown on Main Street” – Documentary about the current state of privacy and criminal issues in a post 9/11 society).  What can I say?  It got me thinking.  I’m weird that way.

    And an important exit question:  What does George Bush really mean when he refers to “the lessons of  9/11”?  Is it merely an exploitation of the fear associated with the tragedy? 

    Also, for a little background see: My Thoughts On 9/11 And Iraq

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    Raise Your Hand If You Couldn’t Give 2 Turds About Harry Potter

    July 19, 2007

    I see that Harry Potter is back in the news again, and showing up on technorati’s ‘top searches’ and everything, so I’d just like to say for the record that I don’t care.  I’ve never read the books, never seen the movies, and I’m not even going to soil my post with a Harry Potter tag.

    Who’s with me?

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    Trent Lott Isn’t Hannitized

    June 15, 2007

    Oh brother, some politicians just say the oddest things:

    Comments by Republican senators on Thursday suggested that they were feeling the heat from conservative critics of the bill, who object to provisions offering legal status. The Republican whip, Trent Lott of Mississippi, who supports the bill, said: “Talk radio is running America. We have to deal with that problem.”

    At some point, Mr. Lott said, Senate Republican leaders may try to rein in “younger guys who are huffing and puffing against the bill.”

    I noticed they were talking about this over at Hot Air.  They ain’t happy.

    Alas, Trent Lott is NOT a “Great American“.

    BTW- If Sean Hannity and I were ever on the same page about anything, it would probably be immigration.  New laws don’t inspire confidence because we aren’t really enforcing the laws we have now.  I’ve always assumed that America is, by law,  kind of like a gated community. People can go in and out, but there’s a protocol to be followed.  Right now our gates are being overrun.  To me that seems like a pretty simple concept, but maybe I just don’t know what the heck I’m talking about (I haven’t read the gazillion-page bill myself).

    For the most part, I probably agree a bit with Lott here in a way.  Guys like Hannity would repeat statements alleging that the Democrats don’t want us “listening to terrorists” or some other outrageous spin on the topic of the day.  These programs just ooze spin.  Become a “Dittohead”!  Subscribe to the “Medved Memo”!  You haven’t been Hannitized!  Lets face it, if these on-air pundits aren’t controlling the opinion, they sure as hell make it look like they want to be.

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    What Does “American” Mean, Anyway?

    June 14, 2007

     First, Harry Reid referred to 12 million “undocumented Americans“.  Watch it:

    Second, the uproar! [1], [2], [3], [4], [etc.]

    Then, while I was out grabbing lunch yesterday, I heard Rush Limbaugh take a call from someone (named ‘Carol’, I think) who claimed that the phrase was technically accurate.   Argument being?  Well, everyone living on the North or South American continents are “Americans”.  Rush was stunned.  In fact, he even felt he had to call the woman back (which he claimed was a first for his show).

    Now, I know that Reid was probably making the characterization out of political correctness or whatever.  “Illegal aliens” just sounds so, well, threatening and mean after all.  Or, maybe he was stating in the context that these people are actually contributing to “American” life in some shape or form, but are suffering from the handicap of being ‘undocumented’.  Put that aside, and I think there is something to be said about ‘Carol’s’ argument however…

    Of course, there’s the whole issue of colloquialisms and semantics.  When someone says “I’m an American”, they usually assume that you are a citizen of the USA.  But “America” (the continents) were named well before the United States existed.  Have we just monopolized the term?  I mean, someone from France is as much French as they are European, right?  Same would go for a man living in the Congo would be considered African?  Is the term “American” in use to describe a citizen of the US just an acceptable inaccuracy?  Is a Canadian really just as “American” as I am? 

    Is this a silly topic for a post?  I don’t think so.  I think I could get a lot sillier.  This “American” thing gets weirder, if you really think about it.  Here we go…

    A commonly accepted euphemism for a black person is “African American”, right?  But is that an accurate description of race?  I mean, it would seem a little odd from a logical point of view to call the aforementioned man from Congo an “African American”.  Even stranger would be to call a white US citizen who immigrated from South Africa the same thing, even though it would seem to be more technically accurate than the previous example. What about “Native American”?  That would refer to the group of people who can trace their lineage on the continent back to before European colonization.  That term appears to be much more logical. 

    Uh oh.

    Well, technically, the majority of Mexicans can make the same claim.  From a certain cultural-historical-geographical point of view, most of those 12 million illegal aliens can say that they are more “American” than I am.

    So there.  That’s my silly little deep thought of the day, even if I haven’t really answered the question.