Monday, August 30, 2010

Karma Strikes Blockbuster Video

By “Pintface” Pete Bogs/BogsBlog

Back in the 80s, VHS was all the rage, and small, independent video stores were opening everywhere. Then Blockbuster Video came along with its larger (and, by corporate dictate, family-friendlier) movie selection and free membership, and those stores began disappearing.

Can you say “Walmart?”

Now Blockbuster is facing bankruptcy due to the growth of streaming online video and DVD-by-mail. I still have a Blockbuster card, but since Netflix came around, that store has pretty much lost me as a customer. If there is a specific movie I want to watch tonight, I will get it from one of the many rental boxes around.

A visit to the local Blockbuster has become a depressing affair: Half-empty shelves, with much of the stock up for sale as “previously viewed.” Few customers, even on Friday night, when one once might have had to wait in line to rent a video. A wasteland. It’s as if someone franchised Detroit.

I get no joy at the thought of anyone losing their job – especially in this economy – but I can’t help thinking this is the business version of karma (“what goes around comes around”) for the former video behemoth.

So, when can we expect Walmart to get a taste of that karma?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

What Experts Won’t Tell You About Preventing Identity Theft

By "Pintface" Pete Bogs/BogsBlog

ID theft is rampant, and so are articles dispensing advice on how to keep it from happening to you. While these are admirable and mostly helpful, there are some obvious tactics they consistently ignore:

Add some dirty diapers, broken glass, rancid dairy products, hepatitis C-tainted syringes and/or anything else generally considered repulsive to every bag of garbage – preferably right on top before you tie it up. (At the very least, you’ll make stealing your identity a memorable experience for the thief.)

Buy a document shredder at an office supply store. Then turn it on and shove a would-be identity thief’s fingers into it while it’s running.

When using an ATM, gas pump, debit card machine, etc., keep a loaded gun in your palm and use it to threaten anyone you suspect of trying to get a glimpse of your card number and/or PIN. It’s your Second Amendment right (USA readers only).

Avoid using banks. Your money is safest in an old shoebox – made of fireproof cardboard – underneath your bed, where identity thieves (and the gubmint) can’t get at it.

Use cash for everything – including buying overpriced drinks on “cashless” JetBlue and Delta airlines. I find that goading flight attendants can be very fruitful, and will only occasionally get you arrested at the arrival gate.

I hope these tips help protect you from becoming a victim of identity theft!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Ground Zero Becomes Ground Zero in Mosque Dispute

By "Pintface" Pete Bogs/BogsBlog

I must weigh in on the controversial plan to build an Islamic center just blocks from Ground Zero, the site of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York. While all Americans have a right to their religious beliefs, and to own property, I feel these plans are ill-advised. And somewhat baffling, considering who is making them.

Muslims, in my view, have more holy sites – about which they are very protective and sensitive – than there are grains of sand in the entire Middle East. They are touchy about who (men vs. women, infidels vs. believers, etc.) does what (dresses revealingly, drives, mixes with members of the opposite sex, worships, etc.) where (Muslim countries, a holy city, mountain, building, etc.), and on what day (one of many holy days throughout the year). They seem hyperaware of what constitutes sacred, and what behaviors are appropriate. So why is the significance of this site lost on some of them?

Not all Muslims are terrorists, and I don’t think the "real" scheme is to build an al-Qaida training facility in Lower Manhattan. But 9/11 is painfully and permanently burned into many people’s memories – not just jingoistic, politically motivated consternatives – and, right or wrong, that horror will always be inextricably connected to Islam. The attackers were Muslims who carried out their (misguided, murderous) deeds as an act of faith, and praised their god as they did it. How about showing some reason and compassion here?

I would not join a lawsuit against the Muslim center, nor would I picket the site. However, I consider this move an insensitive one – a view which probably makes me seem insensitive and threatens my liberal creds in the view of others. We all have our limits, and so does tolerance.

Monday, August 09, 2010

If You Don’t Vote, You Can Still Complain About the Outcome: Why I May Skip the 2010 Election

By “Pintface” Pete Bogs/BogsBlog

For the first time since I became old enough to vote, I'm thinking about staying home on election day. As I write this, early voting is underway in my state.

Should I care if Republicants regain the majority in this mid-term election? Will I even notice? Congressional Democrats have squandered their majority the way President Bush squandered international goodwill after 9/11.

This Congress did pass health care reform and Wall Street reform, but both in very watered-down forms. (If a Democratic majority can’t get universal health care passed in this country, who the hell can?)

To its credit, Congress quickly jumped into action in response to the Supreme Court’s misguided decision to remove spending limits on political campaigns; the resulting legislation, however, was essentially neutered by its exemption of powerful special interests such as the NRA.

The current Democratic administration has continued and/or defended a number of Bush-era policies, including the Orwellian Patriot Act, which takes away the privacy of ordinary, decent Americans. This administration has also disappointingly kept its promise to forego investigations of the myriad crimes (war and otherwise) and costly mismanagement of the former regime.

Obama's not up for reelection this year, but as the most prominent Democrat, he needs to think about how he's alienating supporters, and how, considering both that and the fact that he's widely reviled on the right, he will keep his job in 2012. It certainly won't be by trying to be all things to all people, and disappointing everyone. He needs to take advantage of the slender majority his party now holds and affect some substantive change before he goes before voters once again.

I left the Democratic Party in 2008 (pre-election), but still voted a primarily Democratic ticket. That party should no longer assume it can "count on me" for my vote. No one should assume disillusioned voters like myself will even show up.

PS: Consternatives may be inclined to say “I told you so” here regarding Obama, but should remember that in their eyes Obama could never do anything right. The push toward DADT repeal and a few other initiatives tells me he can – if guided by the right motivation. They despise Obama as a Marxist/socialist/Islamist/foreign-born liberal. My overall issue with him is that he has not been liberal enough.

PPS: If Obama does not "repent" and change course, I believe there is still hope for this country, with a man called Russ Feingold.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Republicants to Republish Constitution With Tear-Out Pages

By “Pintface” Pete Bogs/BogsBlog

Prominent Congressional Republicants, including a wishy-washy John McCain, are talking about repealing the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution – that which ensures citizenship for anyone born within our borders. Naturally, this is intended to stem illegal immigration, an issue that their xenophobic, alien-loathing selves salivate over, especially with an election looming.

I’d support such a repeal ... provided they attach a rider that simultaneously repeals the Second Amendment. I mean, if you're so misguided as to tinker with the single most import document in the country rights-wise, why not? We won’t need guns without so many dangerous ferriners – clearly the cause of most violent crimes here – running around talking their gibberish talk.

Don't fuck with the Constitution, fellas.