Archive | April, 2007

The no-hassle card?

26 Apr

CapitalOne likes to advertise about its “no-hassle” credit cards. Sadly, you can’t do much in today’s society without a credit card. They are convenient, but the credit card companies are beginning to really excel at dinging their customers.

Last night, I noticed that my wife’s CapitalOne account had a payment due today. Somehow I had it marked incorrectly, but that can happen.

Knowing the  due date is today, I tried to log on to the CapitalOne web site. But, I don’t have the proper password for the account. No big deal, I’ll just do a pay by phone.

So, I dial up the handy 800 number, navigate through a fairly easy voice mail menu, and then find out I’m going to get tagged for $10 for making my payment via phone.

What the hell? If it wasn’t for the fact that CapitalOne would probably ding me $39 for a late fee, I’d just mail in the darn check.  I guess I didn’t realize that the Huns featured in the CapitalOne commercials had finally managed to sack and pillage the company and take it over.

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“It’s not supporting the troops”–anyone asked the troops?

23 Apr

George Bush loves to say that anything other than what he wants isn’t supporting the troops. And the Republican chorus chimes in to repeat the mantra.

Anyone asked the troops in Iraq what they think?

Apparently someone has, and you can watch some videos of their thoughts.

Not “cool,” in one sense, since these poor men and women are stuck in the Iraqi quagmire, but it’s cool that the project is underway.

On gun violence

21 Apr

In the aftermath of the horrible events at Virginia Tech and the Johnson Space Center, the predictable gun debate has started. We have people calling for more gun control, and the likes of Ann Coulter and Ted Nugent arguing that gun-free zones are dangerous. It is this argument that got me thinking.

Coulter and Nugent argue that had more people at Virginia Tech been armed, someone could have taken out the shooter, and saved lives. This is possible. But I don’t think you can take this argument to the conclusion that gun-free zones are dangerous places because a potential killer will know he or she is unlikely to face an oncoming bullet in such a place.

To test this argument, let’s look at a few non-gun-free zones. New York, LA, Chicago, any metropolitan area. How many people have been killed in those areas in the first four months of 2007 as compared to Virginia Tech this past week? I’ll bet the gunfire has caused more problems in the non-gun-free zones than in the gun-free zones.

The problem in this country, of course, goes beyond mere guns. We have a culture that worships death and firepower–from gangsta rap (or at least some flavors of it) to the Terminator movies to young people who feel you need to have a gun (and use it) to get respect.

I will agree with the pro-gun arguments that had someone else on campus had a gun, the Virginia Tech killings might have been reduced. But that’s the exception to the rule. Guns kill one or two people at a time, typically. Those stories, happening every day, don’t even make the radar screen of the news media. Another gun in the area is not likely to prevent that sort of violence. In all likelihood, it would just add to the shooting, and maybe rack up another victim.

I don’t know what the solution is. I believe the Constitution (and Indiana’s Constitution in particular) protect an individual’s right to own firearms. And I’m not convinced that amending the constitutions in this country is the answer. But it seems to me that it’s way too easy for people to get guns in this country. And perhaps that’s the problem we really need to tackle, but it will take more police, more prosecutors, more jails to do so–and are we willing to pay for it? That’s the ultimate question.

Lee Iacocca slams BushCo–hard!

12 Apr

He’s right on the money.

First Molly, now Kurt

12 Apr

We’ve lost two of the most talented modern wordsmiths this year. Molly Ivins died earlier this year, and word comes today that Kurt Vonnegut has died at the age of 84.

Damn. Damn damn damn.

I never knew Kurt Vonnegut, but I like to boast that I served with him on the ACLU of Indiana Advisory Council. He spoke a few years ago at an ACLU of Indiana event that I couldn’t attend, but his reprinted speech was a real delight. I read one of his books (Cat’s Cradle) in a theology class at Notre Dame. In the last year or so, I’ve read a few of his other books, and I consider myself blessed to have a copy of Mother Night with his autograph in it.

I’m sure Kurt Vonnegut will be remembered for many things, but I hope this one is near the top of everyone’s list: he once commented during an interview that so many people seem to be insistent on posting the Ten Commandments in government buildings. He wondered why we aren’t more interested in the Beatitudes instead. “Can you imagine ‘Blessed are the peacemakers’ on the wall in the Oval Office?” he asked, referring to the current president.

This little bit on “shock and awe” is perfect.

Thank you, Kurt, for never giving up on our right to think for ourselves. I hope we make you proud some day.

So it goes.

Big mouth apologies

9 Apr

Don Imus said some stupid, racist things recently. He says he’s embarrassed, and he ought to be. I’d be embarrassed to say something like that.

But the question I have is, what do we expect people to do about it? Is an apology enough? Is getting fired enough? What can a person who says something really idiotic and sincerely regrets it do to make amends?

I don’t know, but the question was bugging me, so I thought I’d write a quick post.