June 27, 2002

Hot Buttons

First, thanks to Colleen and Jim for suggestions of other ways Rob could use the old computer to steal I mean download music. A zip drive is a good idea; getting a burner for the old computer is too but Rob thinks it isn't powerful enough. We're looking into various options, or at least I will when he nags me enough.

This entry is my contribution for June to the Random Acts of Journalling Webring/Collab.

Topic: The Question

Most of us have "hot button" issues that are guaranteed to provoke an impassioned response. What are yours?

There are a few...

Several that I've written about and others that are lurking in the background.

You don't ever want to get me started on my mother.

World events these days are full of hot buttons - some more important than others.

For instance, with all the problems in the U.S. today, ranging from very real physical security concerns (there is no such thing as TOO paranoid anymore) to very real economic security issues (do NOT get me started on Martha Stewart!) to finding out that you can't even necessarily trust your religious leader of choice - with all of that, WHY is the U.S government JUST NOW getting around to reversing a wording change in the pledge of allegiance to the flag?

I realize the original change (is that an oxymoron??) was a product of the McCarthy era mindset. I don't really personally care whether the word GOD appears in the pledge or not.. it isn't even my country forheavensake.
But aren't there just a few slightly more important things that the government there should be spending time on?

It's reached a point where being politically correct is INcorrect.

TV ads that insult my intelligence also push my buttons - and cause me to push the buttons on the remote - or else run screaming from the room as is often the case with the AOL commercials.

I think the message they are trying to convey is that AOL is easy.
They show a nice-looking middle-aged lady saying, "If I can do it, anybody can!"
Well pardon me, for a moron you clean up real nice, lady.
They show another nice-looking middle-aged lady trying to explain what instant messaging is:
"It's like having a verbal chat - electronically!"
Well the only person I know that is capable of a non-verbal chat is my 17 year old son who claims to be able to communicate via gaseous emissions.

You don't want to know.

The most insidious part about it is, if you substitute the word "internet" for "AOL" in those ads, they retain the same meaning - that is, they are not so much ads for AOL but ads for what you can do online. They seem to imply that you need AOL to keep in touch with your friends by email or IM and to exchange baby pictures, while really ANY ISP will do. But newbies may not know that.

I don't have any personal experience with AOL beyond a brief attempt to access the free offer more than five years ago; at the time I found it almost impossible to navigate and find the things I was accustomed to finding with my regular ISP.
It's just that ads that appear to be intentionally misleading while at the same time treat me like I'm an idiot, annoy me no end.

Another issue that provokes me is the proliferation of Video Lottery Terminals (VLTs) in every nook and cranny of this city.
They are everywhere.
From my home I can walk to several establishments that have them.
I'm not against gambling per se, although it doesn't really interest me.
I'm not violently against government-run lotteries, although I can do without them.
I am against machines that turn people into zombies on a daily basis.

(Hello, computer!)

No, seriously.
People line up to wait for these places to open, to sit at a machine for hours on end, drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes, just watching the bright lights go around.

Every day.

The difference between these machines and a trip to the casino or the lottery ticket window is a matter of degree. Few go to the casino every day. Even if you buy lottery tickets every day, how long does the transaction take? A few minutes? The VLTs keep people occupied for hours and hours.
In doing so, they lose very serious money.

I don't have all the statistics at my disposal but I remember reading that there is nearly one suicide per week in the province of Quebec (population 6 million) that can be DIRECTLY attributed to problem gambling. Directly, as in the person left a note stating as such or the family was well aware of the problem.
Considering this is a problem that people tend to hide from those close to them, the real number must be many times more.

I've never played one of these machines, but my friend Annie has.
Annie has always enjoyed one or two evenings of bingo a week and the occasional trip to Atlantic City.
Suddenly, last year, it became very easy to find Annie when you needed her.
Right at her favourite machine.
After a few months of this, she admitted to me that she stopped because she lost a lot of money and found herself lying to her husband and family about it.
Recently, she started again.
She claims it's "under control".
What can I do to fix this one?

Linque Du Jour:   More on Toast
It's amazing what can trigger a response in someone's memory.
After following the toast link in my last entry, Rick sent me this email accompanied by a photo: click on the thumbnail to view a larger image:

Mona Lisa Toast?

Your topic brought me back to an old magazine article I read about twenty years ago in Omni Magazine. Happily, I snipped the photo at the time, and while I don't even remember what the article was about, the photo is attached. Yay scanners!

The caption accompanying the photo is: "Inscrutable: For those with a taste for fine art, toast, or both, we offer this tasty rendering, by Tadahiko Ogawa, of Kyoto, Japan, of the famous Ms. Lisa and her rye smile, done entirely in toast."

"Rye" smile, ewwww.

Thanks, Rick!

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