DJWriter
The blog of Chicago-based freelance writer David Johnsen.
Thursday, August 27, 2009
 
Bastard of the Day
Since BotD is probably the favorite recurring feature on this blog, it's appropriate to name one today as part of the birthday celebration.

Some people just beg to be named Bastard of the Day:
A 45-year-old Near Northwest Side man is facing felony animal cruelty charges, accused of throwing a 17-year-old Labrador retriever to its death from the a third-floor balcony Wednesday, police said.
Okay, "innocent until proven guilty" aside, this guy is one sick bastard. Any dog that age is pretty darn old, but for a dog the size of a Labrador retriever, 17 is ancient (Wikipedia gives a Lab's life span as "12-16 years"). No dog deserves that, especially after all those years of being a faithful companion and family member (even a cat doesn't deserve that, although my daily-barfing roommate here at DJWriter World HQ tests my patience). There could be no excuse for such barbaric behavior. Even if the dog was dying, my wife pointed out, there are several places in the city that will euthanize an elderly dog for free.

***** We interrupt this declaration of bastardry... *****

As I was writing the above, I got this e-mail alert from CNN:
A sex offender abducted an 11-year-old girl and kept her in a backyard shed for 18 years before his arrest, police say.
Damn, I think that's even worse. Too many bastards, not enough days...

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Sunday, May 24, 2009
 
Bastard of the Day
The bastards at Wyndham Rewards (formerly TripRewards, formerly Super 8 VIP card) closed my account with no warning and screwed me out of several free nights of motel stays. Thanks a lot, assholes.

Wyndham is a typical example of corporate merger mania ruining decent companies. Years ago, Super 8 had a basic "VIP" card that saved loyal customers 10% on a room. When those Wyndham bastards (or whatever they called themselves back then) took over the chain, they got rid of the simple discount and created a convoluted "rewards" program. Damn it, I hate "rewards" programs. Why make a good customer jump through hoops like a circus animal instead of offering a straightforward discount? (I know why -- because many customers won't bother or won't do it within the proper time frame or whatever -- it's the same bullshit anti-consumer philosophy behind mail-in rebates.) It was bad enough when Super 8 increased their rates ridiculously over the past few years with no visible improvement in accommodations or amenities ("Super 8, where you can pay $90 for a $45 room!"), but this is the last straw.

Here is a list of hotel chains where I will not be spending money anymore:
You bastards can take your rewards program and stuff it. You just lost a loyal customer forever. Congratulations!

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Wednesday, March 04, 2009
 
Bastard of the Day
It's been a while since I did a BotD entry. Of course, getting the Republican regime out of office has cut down on the bastardry somewhat. I'm still having a hard time hearing news reports mention "the president" without automatically thinking asshole, but it will take some effort to undo eight years of conditioning.

Anyway, today's bastard is bus driver Shawn Brim. Here's the AP story from Washington, DC:
A bus driver thought it would be funny to take the bite out of McGruff the crime dog by punching the mascot, but police said children who witnessed the stunt were horrified. Metro bus driver Shawn Brim, 38, climbed off a bus, adjusted his side view mirrors and then punched officer Tyrone Hardy, who was handing fliers to children on a Washington street while dressed as the crime dog, police said. After the punch, Brim got back on the bus and drove away, but was quickly pulled over Saturday.
I hope they hammer this guy for assaulting a police officer, and maybe animal cruelty, too. Don't screw with McGruff, you bastard!

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Wednesday, November 26, 2008
 
Bastard of the Day
Senator Dick Durbin is a bastard for even thinking of asking for a commuted sentence for that hopelessly corrupt former governor of ours, George Ryan. In 2006, Ryan was convicted on 18 counts of corruption and sentenced to 6-1/2 years in the pen. He's been incarcerated for little more than a year, but Durbin apparently thinks that's enough:
"His family name has been damaged," Durbin said. "He has, at an advanced moment of his life, been removed from his family. He has lost the economic security which most people count on at his age. And he is separate from his wife at a time when she is in frail health. To say that he has paid a price for his wrongdoing, he certainly has. And the question is whether continued imprisonment is appropriate at this point."
First of all, any damage to his family name cannot compare to the damage to the families of those killed by unqualified truck drivers who stuffed cash in Ryan's hole to get their licenses.

Second, what is this crap about losing "economic security"? If Ryan hadn't squandered all of his savings trying to defend his corrupt ass in court, he'd still have that security. And how would freeing him make any difference in that respect? If he's broke, he's better off in prison where he doesn't need money to live. If he gets out, what is he going to do, be a Wal-Mart greeter? I wouldn't trust him in a job handling cash.

Third, sorry about his wife, but what kind of reason is that to let him out? Do we routinely set criminals free because of a "frail" family member? Would we commute the sentence of a gang leader so he could take care of his aging mother? Why does Ryan deserve special treatment?

Yes, Ryan has "paid a price." But the law doesn't say criminals must pay "a price" -- it says they should pay whatever and however the court decides (although policies like "good behavior" let them off easy). Can I mail in $5 for a $75 speeding ticket and argue that I "paid a price" and shouldn't owe a penny more? Durbin shows a wanton disregard for the criminal justice system with such reasoning.

Finally, why should Ryan -- or any other criminal -- get off essentially for being old? It isn't like he has spent decades behind bars and now he's a changed man; it's been less than 13 months. It took many years for the scumbag to be exposed and prosecuted -- years when he lived not only as a free man, but as governor of our state being paid with our tax dollars. Heck, if Ryan had been caught while he was still secretary of state, he would have finished serving his sentence years ago. Now Durbin thinks we should set him free because he's old. Well, plenty of old scoundrels languish in prison, and there's no reason Ryan shouldn't be one of them.

Maybe Ryan should have thought about all of the above before he committed the crimes that landed him in the joint. I mean, 18 counts -- that's not a careless, isolated slip-up, that's a culture of corruption.
But three former federal prosecutors who prosecuted Ryan in the licenses-for-bribes scandal said they opposed executive clemency for the former governor and noted he has never accepted responsibility for committing a crime. [emphasis added]
Excellent point. The man won't even admit he screwed up. Sit and rot, Ryan. Durbin, you should be ashamed of yourself.

I've generally supported the work Durbin has done in the U.S. Senate, but if he had floated this trial balloon a month ago, I probably would have voted for his opponent.

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Tuesday, July 15, 2008
 
Bastard of the Day
I went for a midday bike ride today. Coming south on Gross Point Road in Skokie (or maybe Evanston), I was almost killed by a bastard in a 3/4-ton pick-up truck.

I was about 15 feet from an intersection when a pick-up truck behind me suddenly accelerated hard, swung out to my left (I wasn't quite "taking the lane," but I was well away from the curb) and turned right in front of me. When I was 16, someone did that to me and I ended up with 15 stitches in my knee, so I am hyper-aware of the so-called "right hook." I braked when I saw the truck in my peripheral vision because I sensed what he was about to do. If he had waited just a few seconds, I would have been out of his way. If I hadn't anticipated his actions, I would have plowed into the side of his truck and maybe slid underneath.

The bastard obviously saw me and consciously chose to endanger my life. That wasn't my only close call today, either. What the Hell is wrong with these people?

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Tuesday, July 01, 2008
 
Bastard of the Day
I would be remiss if I didn't name Cook County Board President Todd "the Toddler" Stroger as the bastard of July 1st. Today his 1% county sales tax increase went into effect. One percent doesn't sound like much, but it makes Chicago sales taxes the highest of any major U.S. city.

Want to go shopping for a new wardrobe on Michigan Avenue? Now you'll have to pay 10.25% sales tax on your purchase. In the face of such depressing news, some people will go out for a nice dinner to raise their spirits. They'll have to pay the county's new tax, too. And speaking of spirits, you can't even drown your sorrows in booze without handing over that extra 1% tithe to the Toddler.

Stroger's timing is impeccable. Sales taxes are going up at a time when gas prices are high enough to discourage residents from traveling outside the county to make their purchases. And with the economy in the toilet (if you care to argue that point with me, buzz off), what better time to stick it to Cook County residents?

Honorary bastard awards go to the fools who voted for the incapacitated incumbent, Todd's dad, in the 2006 Democratic primary instead of Forrest Claypool, who wouldn't have raised taxes (I could say the same for those who chose Stroger over Tony Peraica in the general election, but Peraica is kind of a goof with his own set of issues). The Tribune suggests that we hunt down everyone responsible and force them to repent or run them out of office.

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Friday, June 27, 2008
 
Bastard of the Day
Fifteen years ago, it happened to my best friend's dad. Ten years ago, it happened to my wife's dad. On Tuesday, it happened to mine.

Here's your reward for 35 years of loyal service: pack up your things. You're fired.

Anybody in the western suburbs looking for a warehouse manager?

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Wednesday, June 11, 2008
 
Bastard of the Day
This goes to Mayor Daley's 33 sycophants on the Chicago City Council who voted today to desecrate Grant Park with the new Chicago Children's Museum. Score another victory for clout and another defeat for the citizens of Chicago. As the Chicago Tribune made abundantly clear, there are plenty of other locations in the city that would benefit more from a museum development than the already overcrowded downtown area and particularly Grant Park.

On the other hand, thank you very much to Gene Schulter, my alderman, for opposing the museum location. He recently e-mailed constituents asking for opinions about this controversial topic (he must have read my response!). I wonder how many of the 33 "yes" voters bothered to do the same.

UPDATE 06/12/2008 - Here's what a Trib editorial said about a perpetual bastard:
Ald. Bernard Stone (50th) said it would be wrong to survey Chicagoans about this hugely unpopular move. Why not take a poll? Because, Stone suggested, citizens oppose this taking of Grant Park only because they've been "brainwashed by the media."
If he believes it's okay to override the local alderman's wishes, then why didn't he put the North Shore Channel bicycle bridge up for a vote before the City Council? I don't live in Rogers Park, but I may have to volunteer for whoever runs against that bastard next time. He just pisses me off too often.

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Saturday, June 07, 2008
 
Bastard of the Day

Today's prize goes to the bushy-white-haired bastard down the block. I was walking Rosco alone (my wife took Gracie to the horse stables to play with another insane puppy), and he squatted to do his thing. As I whipped out a grocery bag and started dutifully scooping it up, the old man came up to me and asked, "Did you get it all?"

Dog walkers recognize this as code for I don't trust you to pick up after your dog. As a responsible dog owner who has lived here for ten years, I don't deserve that. Bite me, you dumb, old bastard. Congratulations, you've just made yourself a new enemy for what remains of your rotten life. Next time, maybe I'll be the one squatting in your yard. Or on your porch.

Here's the kicker. This bastard's house is the eyesore of the block. The stucco is deteriorating by the minute. There is exposed wood on the front where the stucco is gone completely. The west wall has been covered in Tyvek sheeting for at least five years. And he's worried about a stray chunk of dog crap on his precious lawn? Fix up your damned house and then f*** yourself.

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Saturday, May 17, 2008
 
Bastard of the Day
One of my wife's f***ing cats crawled into the corner behind my desk and turned off my computer's power strip tonight. We're talking about getting another dog. I hope it eats those little bastards.

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Friday, May 09, 2008
 
Bastard of the Day
Perennial bastard Alderman Bernard Stone is at it again. This time he wants to put a senior center in Warren Park.* This sums it up nicely:

"Parkland is not a land bank for other government agencies," said Erma Tranter of the Friends of the Park organization.
It's Rogers Park, for goodness' sake. There are plenty of vacant lots and dilapidated properties that would be ideal for a senior center rather than stealing parkland from the general populace.

This might be the best comment on a Tribune story I've ever read:
For years we've screwed ourselves "for the sake of the children." Now that the boomers are getting up in years it's time to screw ourselves "for the sake of the seniors."
Speaking of seniors, I wish that crusty, old bastard Stone would just retire already.


* Although the article doesn't mention Stone until the last few paragraphs, anybody who knows Chicago politics knows that an alderman is always responsible for what is or is not built in his ward. Recall how Stone ridiculously used another senior project to deny a pedestrian/bicyclist bridge. If the Chicago Children's Museum desecrates Grant Park, it will be a rare example of an alderman not getting his way -- bowing to the ultimate clout, Mayor Daley.

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Thursday, May 01, 2008
 
Bastard of the Day
My life has rarely been enriched by the Chicago Tribune Web site's message boards, but combative commenters have reached a new low arguing about the death of bicyclist and teacher Amanda "Mandy" Annis.

Cyclists and motorists have been duking it out on the Trib's message boards frequently this spring. Every article about bicycling draws hostile responses where each side condemns the behavior of the other. Discussions get especially heated regarding articles about cyclist deaths. Most commenters don't even pay attention to the facts behind each story -- they just trot out a tired litany of reasons the other side must be to blame.

I've grown used to the hatred and ill-formed arguments by now, but the comments about Annis really struck a nerve. For most of the day, the Tribune had a brief article about the incident. Anti-motorist and anti-cyclist commenters faced off in page after page of often mean-spirited messages. Then this afternoon, the Tribune replaced the brief with an in-depth article about Annis -- her kindness, her achievements, and perhaps most heartbreaking, her pending engagement. The Tribune included a photo of the smiling young teacher in her classroom. This was a woman who had already done good things in her 24 years and had an even brighter future.

After the updated story was published, a wave of comments from friends and family remembering Annis appeared on the message boards. Alas, they were interspersed with those of the warring factions who were unable to give up their pointless dispute, people who'd been quarreling all day and probably didn't even know the Tribune had posted a new version of the story. I wish those grieving for her didn't have to plow through such malicious nonsense.

And yet, it got worse. As family and friends wrote of this young life taken too soon, some bastards had the audacity to say, in essence, "Save your remembrances for the obituary. This is a news story, and you can't stop us from fighting about it."

For a sense of the intensity of the debate, look at how many comments were posted and the ID number of the last comment. As of 11:30 PM, there were 255 comments, and the last ID number was 319. That means 64 comments -- 20 percent -- were removed by Tribune editors for crossing the line of decency.

Annis' death is tragic by any measure. Shame on the bickering bastards who can't set aside their conflict for a little compassion.


UPDATE 05/02/2008 - In a Tribune commentary, Kevin Williams offers a suggestion:
...Wheel Freedom Day. No wheels. No skates, bikes, cars or cabs. Everybody's on foot until we all calm down. Because everybody is mad, and nobody is thinking.
Naturally, his commentary has drawn even more argumentative bastards into the fray. Meanwhile, Annis' smiling, young face graces the top of the Tribune's homepage this morning.

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Wednesday, April 30, 2008
 
Bastard of the Day
Reverend Jeremiah Wright is overdue for this award. He can say whatever he wants, but I wish he'd shut the hell up until mid-November. Whatever his objectives, I can't see how sabotaging Barack Obama's campaign will help achieve them.

Obama is really getting screwed regarding religion. Early in his campaign, he got labeled as a Muslim. That didn't stick well enough, so now he's being tightly coupled to Reverend Wright and his controversial statements. Muslim or Christian, Obama gets hammered regardless. He might have better luck as <gasp> an atheist.

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Thursday, April 24, 2008
 
Bastard of the Day
As some of you may know, I share DJWriter World Headquarters with two little bastard felines. Since they don't get along with our dog on the first floor, they live down the hall from my swanky top-floor office. Despite my sympathy for cougars, I think the world would be a better place without household cats. I utterly despise them, and I'm embarrassed to admit that I live with them, lest someone think otherwise.

It's bad enough that these particular cats once belonged to my wife's sitzpinkler ex. Sometimes I think he O.D.'d and died just to curse me with their presence. Now they are getting older (not fast enough -- those damn things live forever), and the vet told my wife to feed them canned food to help keep them hydrated. Needless to say, it reeks to high heaven. The stink drifts right down the hall, casting a fetid pall over my office. Additionally, the cats regularly regurgitate those malodorous meals on my floor.

Sadly, I'm used to all of that, so that's not why they are today's bastards.

I came home from the grocery store -- where I even bought @#$%& canned cat food -- to find one of the cats comfortably snuggled in a pair of my cycling shorts! Oh, how cute! Yeah, and how convenient that the cat is football-sized because I wanted to punt that little bastard into the next county. Instead, I just yelled at her until she ran away. Tonight (just minutes ago, in fact), the little bastard did it again. This time I launched her decisively across my office and out the door. One might suggest that I put my cycling shorts elsewhere, but that would be surrender. I'll just keep smacking her until she takes the hint.

Only one cat has been in my shorts, but I'm giving this award to both so the other won't feel neglected. I loathe them with all my canine-lovin' heart.

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Tuesday, April 15, 2008
 
Bastard of the Day
Today's award goes to the trigger-happy Chicago cops who killed a cougar in the Roscoe Village neighborhood last night. I'll bet those bastards fancy themselves as big game hunters now. Of course, taking down a cornered cougar with ten freaking shots isn't exactly expert marksmanship. Sorry, I just don't buy the excuse that it was ready to attack. That sounds like a story concocted to deflect public outrage. Too bad the cougar wasn't in my wife's district -- she certainly wouldn't have shot it (she probably would have fed it cat treats and brought it home!).

People are saying that the police couldn't have been expected to have tranquilizers, but that excuse doesn't hold water, either. The cougar was first reported in the morning. By 6 PM, when the big cat was killed, numerous police/animal care and control workers/game wardens/zoo workers/whatever should have been roaming the neighborhood with tranquilizer guns ready.

Somebody needs to control the squirrel and stray cat populations in this city -- not to mention the proliferation of yuppie toddlers -- and that cougar was just the one to do it.

UPDATE -- Before someone waves this in my face, let me note that just because experts say the killing was "justified" does not mean it was the ideal course of action or outcome.

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Monday, March 31, 2008
 
Bastard of the Day
Some spamming bastard has been spoofing my Biking Illinois e-mail address to send ads for knock-off watches and handbags. I know this because I have received more than 1,200 "delivery failure" messages from e-mail servers around the world in the past week. However much you dislike spam, you won't know true hatred until a spammer starts using your address. If I could get my hands on this bastard, I'd do things even Dick Cheney would consider cruel and unusual.

God only knows how many of this bastard's messages reached their intended recipients. So far, I haven't received any hostile responses -- with the possible exception of a message in Czech that I can't translate* -- but I surely didn't make any friends this past week. Thanks a lot, you bastard.


*If anyone fluent in Czech is reading this, please tell me what "Tato schránka je trvale mimo provoz" means.

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Monday, March 24, 2008
 
Bastard of the Day
I've been against the Iraq War since before it started, and I have always supported free speech, even when it nearly got me booted out of high school. But Catholic Schoolgirls Against the War, the group who squirted fake blood on parishioners at Holy Name Cathedral during Easter mass, win the Bastards of the Day award.

My ire stems from one paragraph deep within the Chicago Tribune's story:
Catholic Schoolgirls Against the War, however, may have been preaching to the choir—literally. Both Pope Benedict XVI and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops have opposed the war since its inception, with the pope using his own Easter homily Sunday to renew calls for an Iraq resolution that would "safeguard peace and the common good." After the service, the cardinal reiterated the Catholic Church's opposition to the war, but he said mass is not the place to protest the U.S.-led invasion.
The Catholic Church does not support this war, so why disturb an Easter mass? That's like protesting at the French embassy. If the Schoolgirls (who aren't all female, btw) had any guts, they'd be squirting blood on Bush and Cheney, or at least squirting blood in those bastards' churches (aside from the issue of whether to politely respect religious gatherings in general). Or maybe they should have protested in the giant evangelical Christian churches -- those worshippers helped reelect Bush/Cheney, implicitly supporting the war. I have a hunch that most Chicago Catholics vote Democratic.

While Sunday's action succeeded as a publicity stunt, I can't imagine it helped the Schoolgirls' cause much. Naturally, they issued a statement that perfectly illustrated the ridiculousness of the protest:
The statement lauded protesters' efforts to remind the churchgoers that George and Daley met two months ago with the president, described as the "principal public figure responsible for initiating the carnage in Iraq."
So they protested at Holy Name because Cardinal George and Mayor Daley met with President Bush? Do they have any idea how many people meet with the president? Why don't they go squirt blood on the championship sports teams that get invited to the White House? Also, do they know what George or Daley might have said to Bush when they met? I sincerely doubt that Cardinal George gave Bush a big thumbs-up on Iraq. I can't imagine Bush cares how a cardinal and a mayor feel about the war, anyway.

For that matter, why didn't the Schoolgirls go squirt blood on Mayor Daley? I know why -- because he has police security, whereas Holy Name is an easy target. Sheesh, all they had to do was push past a 70-year-old usher with cancer! Wow, those Schoolgirl bastards sure are brave!

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Saturday, March 15, 2008
 
Bastard of the Day
Pro cyclists are tested regularly for illegal subtances. But sometimes a cyclist truly deserves privacy:
Belgian cyclist Kevin van Impe raised strong objections to being visited by anti-doping controllers while he was making arrangements for the funeral of his infant son this week. The Quick Step rider was at a crematorium in Lochristi, Belgium when a drug tester showed up demanding the rider provide a sample, and warned that he would face a two-year suspension if he refused.
Oh, sure. It's the old "burying my dead baby" excuse that cheating cyclists always use to evade testing! The drug tester was just following orders, so the BotD award goes to whichever heartless, inflexible governing body is responsible for this (the news brief isn't clear). Sheesh.

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Tuesday, March 11, 2008
 
Bastard of the Day
How many times is Alderman Bernard Stone going to win this award? He's the best reason not to live in Rogers Park... and that's saying something because I can think of an awful lot of reasons not to live in Rogers Park.

Some Chicago aldermen want home sellers to share the burden of the city's real estate transfer tax with buyers (don't sellers already pay a transfer tax to Cook County?). Stone, the same bastard who declared that he deserves a $20,000 raise ($98K/year isn't enough), and also the same bastard who refused to allow a bridge for a bike path just because nobody licked his boots in the process, says, "Prices have appreciated so greatly over the last few years I am really not going to cry too much for the sellers."

Look here, you bastard. Not everyone draws a six-figure salary for a part-time job like alderman. For most people, their homes are their primary, if not sole, retirement investment. Why should you be allowed to skim money from them? Most of those people need every penny they can get from selling their homes.

Worst of all, this is an "escape tax," a way to soak people one last time before they leave Chicago. When we sell our house, we won't benefit from any real estate transfer tax we pay because we'll be gone. How fair is that? At least buyers paying the real estate transfer tax will theoretically get something for their money.

Geez, I can't believe there aren't enough intelligent people in Rogers Park to bounce this bastard out of office.

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Monday, February 25, 2008
 
Bastard of the Day
Damn it, Ralph Nader, do not screw up another election for the Democratic Party. Running a hopeless campaign for president is not the way to spark debate. Siphoning just enough Democrats over to your side so that the conservatives who have been destroying this country can steal another victory is not taking the high ground, no matter how pure your motives.

I agree with many of Marty Kaplan's thoughts about Nader's candidacy:

But despite Nader's wishful thinking, we don't have a parliamentary system. Any votes he attracts will be drained from the Democratic nominee and conceivably cost an Electoral College victory; they will not result in a new government being forced to enter into a coalition with his supporters. Nor, I think, will his presence in the race reframe the issues, refocus the choices, or push the envelope of the campaign...

What troubles me, though, and what his bid throws a spotlight on, is how hard it is for anyone in America to shape the national conversation on anything. One way or another, it takes big money -- the fortune to run for office, the cash to buy full-page ads in newspapers, the bankroll to own a network, the marketing budget to create a celebrity's star power.

Nader's ideas aren't bad; I agree with many of them. Like Kaplan, I wish we could debate Nader's "issues like single-payer health insurance, labor law reform, Pentagon waste, corporate crime, 'the illegal occupation of Palestine,' and impeachment."

But Barack Obama reminded me that Nader went a little too far in 2000: "He thought that there was no difference between Al Gore and George Bush, and eight years later I think people realize that Ralph did not know what he was talking about."

Had I been blogging in 2000, I don't think I would have called Nader a bastard before the election. Gore seemed likely to win anyway, so I didn't mind Nader and the Greens trying to draw attention to some issues. I could not imagine there were enough dolts in the United States to elect someone as obviously unqualified as George W. Bush. Of course, I was wrong.

Being much more politically involved and astute now, I don't want to see a replay of 2000 this November. That's why I'm calling Nader a bastard at the first opportunity. And if he doesn't go away, I'll probably do it again.

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Thursday, February 21, 2008
 
Bastard of the Day
Today's award goes to the useless bastards at Pizzeria Aroma. How is their food? Don't ask me. Those bastards refused to deliver it.

Even though their Web site shows a delivery area that includes our house, someone called me five minutes after I ordered and claimed, "We never go west of Western." I argued that their Web site says they do (it clearly shows that they deliver to California, four blocks west of Western). He said, "Sorry, we're way too busy tonight to make any exceptions." Damn it, I'm not asking for an exception. I checked your delivery area before I called. Why bother publishing a delivery area if it's wrong?

Pizzeria Aroma, you stink. You will never get another chance to get my business, you bastards.


UPDATE 02/26/2008 - They charged my credit card, too! I called them and fortunately they remembered my situation and said they'd credit my account.

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Monday, January 28, 2008
 
Bastard of the Day
One night in 2004, a driver traveling 100 mph in a 55-mph zone killed a 17-year-old cyclist in Spain. Now Tomas Delgado is suing the victim's family for the damage to his Audi A8. Actually, he wants 20,000 Euros for damage to the car plus 6,000 Euros to cover the rental costs while his car was being repaired. What do the two parties have to say?

Until the lawsuit, the boy’s parents said they had pitied Delgado, feeling sorry for the guilt they assumed he felt over the accident. But Delgado told El Pais [a Spanish newspaper]: "I'm also a victim in all of this, you can't fix the lad's problems, but you can fix mine."

What's the Spanish word for chutzpah? I suppose bastardo will have to do.

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Sunday, December 16, 2007
 
Bastard of the Day
Julie Deardorff tells how to avoid slipping on the ice, courtesy of Mark Grabiner, director of the Clinical Biomechanics and Rehabilitation Laboratory at the University of Illinois at Chicago:

Look where you're going.

<sigh> I guess in this age of cell phones, iPods, and complete obliviousness to one's surroundings, people have to be told to just pay some freaking attention.

So why is Grabiner's name boldfaced above as today's bastard? Deardorff adds this:
Grabiner, by the way, is uniquely qualified to dispense advice: He is one of the only researchers in the country who deliberately trips senior citizens to study how they fall.*
Okay, so he's not really a bastard since he's doing it in the name of science and helping others. But if you met a guy at a cocktail party and asked him what he does for a living, and he said, "I trip old people just to watch them fall," what would you think?


* Deardorff (or her editor) gets credit for not using the tautological "fall down" (in what other direction would one fall?).

Speaking of gravity, that reminds me of a teacher I had in high school. I took a class called "Principles of Technology," which was touted as a bold, new, interdisciplinary course merging the concepts of math and physics with the practical applications of a shop class. I fondly recall it as "Physics for Burnouts." I only took it because my best friend wanted to, and he thought it would be an easy "A." He was already taking real physics and pre-calculus on his way to becoming president (at age 36) of a steel fabricator's engineering department, so the course was quite basic for him. I was just looking to pad my GPA to help get a college scholarship. Fortunately, it was an easy "A," and we had a good time interacting with the burnout subculture. We even learned about Guns N' Roses before they became phenomenally popular. Anyway... our teacher was a good guy who seemed to know what he was talking about, but he relied on the word tends a bit too much. One day, he explained to the class, "The Earth's gravity tends to pull things downward." Uh, dude, aren't the laws of physics a bit more definite than that?

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Wednesday, November 21, 2007
 
Bastard of the Day
The Pentagon is taking bastardry to a new level:
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) ― The U.S. Military is demanding that thousands of wounded service personnel give back signing bonuses because they are unable to serve out their commitments.

To get people to sign up, the military gives enlistment bonuses up to $30,000 in some cases.

Now men and women who have lost arms, legs, eyesight, hearing and can no longer serve are being ordered to pay some of that money back.
Can you believe this? Those bastards are burning up $11,000,000 per hour in this war, and they want to take back $3,000 from a wounded soldier because he is unable to return to combat for the last three months of his commitment. Are they afraid soldiers are going to throw themselves on top of IEDs just so they can pocket their bonuses without serving their full terms? Hell, the wounded deserve those bonuses more than anyone. Does the Pentagon try to get bonus money back from widows, too?

UPDATE 11/24/2007 - Keith Olbermann is reporting that the Pentagon says this was a mistake that should not have happened.

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Sunday, November 18, 2007
 
Bastard of the Day
I got an e-mail recently from someone wishing to exchange links with my copywriting Web site. While this seemed like a friendly gesture that supposedly would boost my search engine ranking, I smelled a rat. First of all, he offered to put my link on a page that I could not access from elsewhere on his site; I can't see how a search engine spider would ever even find it.

But the most galling thing was the content of his site, which was written in broken English -- it was encouraging businesses to outsource their copywriting to India! I yelled so loud at my screen that my wife thought something terrible had happened. One major reason I abandoned information technology was the outsourcing of work to Indian companies at rock-bottom rates. In fact, my later years in IT were devoting to fixing the garbage those cut-rate Indian programmers generated.

Now this guy expects me to help him get work for Indian copywriters. Why would I want to encourage my potential clients to hire Indian hacks instead?

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Tuesday, November 06, 2007
 
Bastard of the Day
Did you know that Exxon never finished paying for the Exxon Valdez environmental disaster which occurred 18 years ago? Check it out:
The Supreme Court's recent decision to hear ExxonMobil's reasons to void the $2.5 billion punitive award in the Exxon Valdez case hit the town of Cordova, Alaska, hard. This small coastal fishing community -- my hometown -- along with the Alaska Native villages in Prince William Sound have borne the brunt of the largest crude oil spill in America's waters; a spill that took place more than 18 years ago, but one that continues to hold the region hostage. The second painful blow was the high court's decision to not even hear our reasons why the award should be restored to the full $5 billion that a jury of peers decided was necessary to punish the corporate giant back in 1994.
Here's some more rotten news...
It shouldn't surprise anyone that Exxon paid $2.5 billion for its cleanup and another $1 billion for penalties. But, it might surprise people who live outside Alaska to learn that taxpayers, not Exxon, paid a majority of that bill.
You always knew those unctuous bastards were going to weasel out of paying their fair share.

Just a few days ago, ExxonMobil posted a profit of $9.4 billion for the past three months! And those greedy bastards can't cough up $2.5 billion -- or even the full $5 billion -- for destroying the economy of an Alaskan fishing village? Do these oil people ever sit up at night wondering why everybody hates them? Surely they know.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2007
 
Bastard of the Day
Come on ABC, are the fires in California really so important that you have to preempt prime-time programming? They have wildfires there every freaking year. That's not news. "News" would be if those idiots decided to move away from the darn forests before they inevitably burn. Stupid Californians.

Cover it on Nightline for anyone who cares; don't deprive me of Boston Legal, you bastards.

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Thursday, October 18, 2007
 
Bastard of the Day
I've been a loyal Jewel shopper all of my life. One thing I love about Jewel is that they always accept my coupons regardless of expiration date (Walgreen's doesn't, just one reason why I hate those bastards). Today I got my hair cut and went to the nearby Jewel at 2940 N. Ashland Ave in Chicago.

"Uh, this coupon is expired," said the clerk.

"So?"

"Well, we don't take expired coupons."

"What? I've been shopping at Jewel for 20 years, and I've never had an expired coupon refused." I had a wall-eyed fit right there in the line. I made him call the manager on duty.

"Sir, that's been our policy since I've been here, and I started eight years ago."

"That's bull. I've used expired coupons here before. No one at any other Jewel has rejected my expired coupons. If I wanted that crap, I'd shop at Walgreen's." I shop at six Jewels regularly and a dozen more occasionally, so I am speaking from broad experience (I am somewhat of a grocery store fanatic). Heck, I've used crumpled-up coupons that were obviously long beyond their expiration date, and no one ever cared.

When a local Osco (the drugstore side of Jewel) became a CVS/pharmacy and started enforcing expiration dates, the manager, who had been the Osco manager before, acknowledged that it was a policy change and even accepted my old coupons that one time just to make me happy. The bastards at the Jewel on Ashland obviously are not concerned with customer satisfaction.

If I hadn't spent an hour shopping, I would have left the cartful of bagged groceries and walked away. As it was, I spent $100 there. I told them I was never shopping there again. "Have a nice day, sir." Bullshit. I hate "have a nice day" even when it is pseudo-sincere, so F*** YOU, you patronizing bastards. You just lost a $100 a week customer over a lousy $1 coupon. I hope you're proud of yourselves.

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Friday, October 12, 2007
 
Bastard of the Day
The real enemy in this summer's "Battle for Lake Michigan" wasn't BP. It was Indiana. Here we go again:

Indiana is moving to scrap, relax or omit limits on toxic chemicals and heavy metals dumped into a Lake Michigan tributary by the sprawling U.S. Steel Corp. mill in Gary, according to environmental lawyers and former federal regulators who have reviewed a proposed water permit.
I've had enough of their crap. It's time to declare war on those Hoosier bastards. You know we'd win.

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Tuesday, October 09, 2007
 
Bastard of the Day
I generally don't bother reading the sports pages, but as a former marathoner, I've been following coverage of Sunday's Chicago Marathon fiasco. Ignorant bastard columnist Mike Downey seems to think he knows all about the marathon because he saw it on TV or something. He says marathoners should blame themselves for having the nerve to think they would be reasonably accommodated by a race organization to whom they paid $100 (IIRC) to race. This typifies Downey's ignorance of the event:

Nearly 10,000 of the people who filed entries for this 30th annual race were smart enough not to run it... Of the 45,000 who intended to take part in the city's marathon, only 35,867 actually showed up to run. The ones who did not showed good sense.
While it is true that nearly 10,000 registered runners did not participate, I am certain that a much smaller number based their decision on the weather. The Chicago Marathon is a very popular event, and as such, it reaches its registration limit early. How early? So early that this year, the event closed in April -- before runners even began training for it! (Most marathon training programs are 14 to 18 weeks.) Needless to say, a lot can happen between April and October. Some people lose their enthusiasm and decide not to even train for the race. Some people get injured along the way and cannot race. People move, people get busy with work, scheduling conflicts arise... Most of those 10,000 people knew long before the weather forecast that they wouldn't be at the starting line. Downey arrogantly declares that those people were wiser than everyone who lined up for the race on Sunday, though he knows nothing of their actual circumstances.

If the race organizers were short on water -- and I believe they were because I trust fellow runners more than I trust professional spinmeisters covering their butts -- then Downey has no basis for blaming the runners themselves. A race registration is a contract of sorts -- you pay your money with the expectation that the race organization will provide whatever is promised. If they say there will be water and Gatorade, then you should expect to get water and Gatorade. Otherwise, you may as well just run 26 miles on your own and save your money. Downey seems to think those expectations should go out the window just because it's hot.

Downey buys the race organization's spin that they procured 200,000 extra servings of water. Do the math. That works out to less than six extra servings per runner, and those cups are pretty small -- I'll say eight ounces to be generous. So the temperature was 15 degrees higher than normal, and they thought runners would only need an extra 40-48 ounces of water during four to six hours of running? (The organizers weakly claimed they didn't expect people to dump water on their heads -- yeah, because no one has ever seen that before.) One friend reported that he drank three gallons of fluids in order to finish on Sunday. Downey seems to think that by providing a few extra servings of water, the race organizers were off the hook. And, of course, that leaves only the runners to blame.

The marathon organization's attempts to shirk responsibility for what happened on Sunday make me sick. Downey's victim-blaming makes me sicker. Stick to team sports, you ignorant bastard.

For a better comment on the controversy, read Eric Zorn's blog.

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Thursday, October 04, 2007
 
Bastard of the Day
As I've said before, murderers are easy targets for BotD awards. The deciding factor is the killer's motive. That said, Jeanette Strowder is eminently qualified as today's Bastard:
A Chicago woman who became enraged after discovering her longtime boyfriend's stash of pornography shot and killed him in their South Side home over the weekend, prosecutors said. Jeanette Strowder, 58, is facing a first-degree murder charge in the Sunday shooting of Jesse Martin, 54, her boyfriend of about 15 years, police said.
Maybe those billboards in the Missouri Bible Belt that say pornography destroys lives are right after all.

If you enjoy porn and don't have a psycho bastardess girlfriend, this is your lucky week. Just troll the alleys of Chicago. I'm sure you'll find many boxes of stuff being thrown away by guys who don't want to meet Jesse Martin's fate!

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Monday, October 01, 2007
 
Bastard of the Day
Damn it, those gangbanger S.O.B.s tagged our overhead garage door again. If I ever catch one of those bastards in the act, I'll beat his freaking head on the asphalt until even dental records won't identify him. Don't tell me those bastards are artists -- not when my garage door is their unauthorized medium. Paint on your own damn property. That makes five crimes committed on or in our garage since 1999. At least the Graffiti Blasters quickly eliminate that crap. And don't you bastards even think about hijacking the comments like you did here. I will delete them.

UPDATED 10/02/2007 - Yesterday afternoon, we ran into two neighbors who asked if we had seen our garage door. If I hadn't been so angry about it, I would have said something like, "Seen it? I painted it myself! Do you like it?" Anyway, apparently everyone else has known about it since Thursday night. I guess that means we should get out more, if only to find out what's happening on our own property. We can go weeks without using the alley (except to throw out garbage, and we hardly step outside the garage to do that), but other people drive or walk their dogs back there every day.

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Thursday, September 20, 2007
 
Bastard of the Day
Today it's personal: the SUV-driving asshat who attempted to turn right in front of me as I crossed Route 59 on the Poplar Creek Trail.

I stopped at the busy intersection of Route 59 and Route 58. I waited for the "Walk" sign and pedaled halfway across Route 59. Then several of Mr. SUV-driving asshat's four-wheeled brethren on Route 58 turned right in front of me, never even looking at me in the crosswalk (and trust me, I'm too big to miss these days). I finally saw a gap and tried to finish crossing the highway before the light changed. Then Mr. SUV-driving asshat tried to turn, hesitated as I also hesitated (I err on the side of caution when I think I might be crushed like a cockroach and left to die in rush hour traffic), then finally let me go as he shouted and gestured toward the walk/don't walk light that was now flashing "Don't Walk," as if that meant I should have retreated to the corner I came from and waited for the next cycle of lights to try it again. I clearly had the right of way, but Mr. SUV-driving asshat seemed to think not (perhaps they should install signs reminding motorists turning right to yield to bicyclists and pedestrians). I wish I had read his license plates, but I was too busy watching his gigantic chrome grill creeping toward my Bike Friday.

Aside from that, I had a pretty nice ride. It was only my third visit to the trail -- the first was for Biking Illinois and the second was rained out before it started by a sudden summer thunderstorm. I did the loop in both directions with a little extra, probably 19 miles total (Bike Friday's cyclometer battery bit the dust years ago and I never replaced it). It was a beautiful afternoon. Many wildflowers (a.k.a. weeds) were in bloom, and everything else was green except the corn. I saw a lot of birds, plus a black snake slithering across the asphalt (and another who wasn't quite fast enough). I could swear the trail wasn't as hilly two years ago, but I know it's just that I was in better shape then (I haven't ridden more than 200 miles or so this year). That's okay; my Bike Friday is set up for touring, so it has plenty of low-end gears.

Aside from going anaerobic too many times and nearly being mashed by Mr. SUV-driving asshat, I had one other mishap. I approached an intersection and realized too late that I wasn't going to get across safely before the light changed. I hit the brakes, and my darn right cleat would not release. So I did what I had to do: I fell over on my side and sprang back up as if nothing had happened, cursing under my breath. At least I didn't fall in the street. It wasn't until I crossed the road that I noticed my handlebars had been knocked askew when they hit the ground. I rode a bit further, fueled by the adrenaline rush of my fall, and then it hit me -- this was one of those moments. I pulled off the trail, straightened the bars, and tightened the quick release (remember I was riding a folding bike) so it wouldn't happen again.

Is it just me, or are suburban cyclists less friendly than they were several years ago? It used to be that the biggest difference between city trails and suburban trails was that other riders would acknowledge me with at least a smile or a nod. Most ignored me today, even when I offered a greeting first (come to think of it, I'm friendlier when I'm on my bike than anywhere else by a long shot). Of course, they were still nicer than Mr. SUV-driving asshat.

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Wednesday, September 19, 2007
 
Bastard of the Day
When I first read Mayor Daley's outburst regarding the proposal to befoul Grant Park with the Chicago Children's Museum, I was furious. In general, I have supported him despite his occasional missteps, but this was too much. I decided to sleep on it, hoping he would apologize for this latest embarrassing verbal gaffe. Instead, he reiterated his position. Here's what the bastard said on Monday:
You mean you don't want children from the city in Grant Park? Why? Are they black? Are they white? Are they Hispanic? Are they poor? You don't want children? We have children in Grant Park all the time. This is a park for the entire city. What do you mean no one wants children down there? Why not? Wouldn't you want children down there?
This is the most inanely misdirected rant I've ever read. Of course, there are children in Grant Park, children of all colors and classes. And that has nothing to do with whether to build a museum there. Grant Park is supposed to be protected as "Public Ground -- A Common to Remain Forever Open, Clear and Free of any Buildings, or other Obstruction Whatever." Some supporters of the Chicago Children's Museum are claiming that this law does not exactly apply, but those arguments clearly go against the spirit of the law if not the letter. Alderman Brendan Reilly, who sadly lacks the clout of his predecessor, Burton Natarus, has held nine public meetings about this. He says race was never an issue in any of those meetings, meetings that Daley couldn't be bothered to attend.

There are other ideal locations for the museum. What about -- duh -- the Museum Campus? That would elevate the Chicago Children's Museum's status immensely, putting it in the company of world-class institutions like the Field Museum of Natural History, the Shedd Aquarium, and the Adler Planetarium. Another option is Northerly Island, former location of Meigs Field. Those areas do not have the special legal status of Grant Park.

Here's a radical idea. If you, Mayor Daley, really give a damn about poor kids, why not locate the new museum where it can do some economic good? Instead of burying it amidst the jewels of the lakefront, put it in a neighborhood that could use an anchor for some stability. Put it where new restaurants, stores, and other businesses can open to serve museum visitors, offering jobs to those kids' parents where now there are few. As far as I can tell, that option has never been on the table.

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Friday, September 07, 2007
 
Bastard of the Day
I'm going to go out on a limb here and pick Edie Bolanos, the Indiana woman who raced a freight train with her minivan and lost, killing her two daughters. Damn it, I am sick of these avoidable train-motor vehicle "accidents." It was not an accident. Watch the video. She literally raced the train and then attempted to cross the tracks in front of it. Her minivan was hit by that train as well as another traveling in the opposite direction (which she would have seen had she not been busy making a jughandle turn to cross the tracks). Incredibly, she and her two sons survived.

Let's look at a typical response to incidents like this. Here is what the owner of her kids' day care center said:
"It was a tragic accident," Bazan said. "She was a very loving mother."
First of all, this was not a "tragic accident." It was a deliberate act of profound stupidity that ended badly. Second, she is not "a very loving mother." If she truly loved her children, she would not have endangered them in this way. Judging from the video, this probably isn't the first time she raced a train, just the first time she lost.

Some may argue that I should feel sorry for this woman because she has lost two kids. Bullshit. I say her actions show that she was an unfit mother in the first place. I would put that bastard on trial for murdering her daughters, and I would take her sons away from her.

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Wednesday, September 05, 2007
 
Bastard of the Day
It's an encore appearance by crotchety, old Alderman Bernard Stone of Rogers Park. My least favorite newspaper in the world, the Pioneer Press News-Star (which I begrudgingly resubscribed to when they dropped the price to $5.99 -- after bitching to the telemarketer about what a crappy paper it is), reports this week that the Lincoln Village Theater is closing and that its owner is planning to donate the building to the Cheder Lubavitch Hebrew Day School (cheesily misspelled by the pathetically copyedited News-Star as Chedar) if he can't sell it. The article includes a quote from the bastard:
"(The theater building) is a good location for the school. It won't make me happy (to lose the tax revenue), but there are other potential sites for a real tax producer," Stone said.
Sure, it's a good location -- across the North Shore Channel (alas, the News-Star calls it the Chicago River) from the heavily Jewish neighborhood it would serve. Bernie, you bastard, wouldn't it be nice if those kids could use a bike path bridge to get over the channel instead of walking along busy Lincoln Avenue? Maybe you should have built that bridge instead of playing petty tyrant. While I'm at it, shame on the News-Star for completely missing this aspect of the story, not to mention getting half the facts wrong, as usual.

Note: Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich gets a runner-up award for emasculating the Complete Streets bill (SB 314), but I won't elevate him to bastardhood because I'm still hoping he'll sign HB 664, the property tax relief bill).

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Saturday, August 25, 2007
 
Bastard of the Day
It's America's favorite bowhunter, the Motor City Meathead, Ted Nugent. Over the years, his right-wing tirades have become more and more ridiculous. I suppose it's his way of staying "relevant" without having a hit song for a couple of decades. Nugent graduated to complete bastardhood with this outburst from an Anaheim, California concert. "Uncle Ted" was walking around with what looked like a machine gun in his hand as he said

Hey Arnold, suck on this one time, you putz.* I was in Chicago last week, I was in Chicago, I said "Hey Obama, you might want to suck on one of these you punk!" You know what I mean, that Obama, he's a piece of shit, and I told him to suck on my machine gun. Let's hear it for him. And then I was in New York, I said, I said hey Hillary, you might want to ride one of these into the sunset you worthless bitch. And since I'm in California, how 'bout Barbara Boxer, she might want to suck on my machine gun. Hey Diane Feinstein, ride one of these you worthless whore... Any questions? FREEDOM!!!!!

Yes, Ted, in America you have the freedom to say whatever you want, but you're still a bastard. Nugent's apologists will say he was just joking, and there is an obvious pseudo-phallic element to "suck on my machine gun." But joking about killing politicians -- particularly senators who are presidential candidates -- isn't particularly funny, especially within 30 miles of where Senator Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1968.

* For those who wonder why the Republican governor was included in Nugent's rant against Democratic senators, it's no doubt because he supports the Brady Bill and other gun control measures.

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Wednesday, August 15, 2007
 
Bastard of the Day
The majority of murderers probably qualify for bastardhood, but Hans R. Peterson deserves to be singled out. Peterson has confessed to killing Dr. David Cornbleet in his downtown Chicago office last October. Why?

Even though he had no contact with his dermatologist for almost four years, Hans R. Peterson allegedly believed that a drug prescribed by the doctor to treat acne caused him to be impotent, sources say.
Peterson killed Cornbleet because he couldn't get it up. There are plenty of good or at least understandable reasons to kill someone, but that is one of the lamest I've ever heard.

Oh well, Peterson's cellmates won't care whether he can get it up or not. The prison team can always use another catcher.

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Monday, August 13, 2007
 
Bastard of the Day
Well, of course it has to be Karl Rove, or Turd Blossom, as our Commander in Chief calls him. While I am happy to see him go, I must honor his previous achievements -- he's committed enough bastardly acts over the past 15 years to fill several books (see below). He's second to Dick Cheney in responsibility for the mess known as the Bush administration.

Rove's worst contribution to the world is his conflation of politics and policy. Every policy enacted by the administration is orchestrated for maximum political benefit. Rove doesn't let Bush wipe himself in the bathroom without weighing the political ramifications of both wiping and not wiping. I guess I might admire that approach as a cynic, but it doesn't seem like the wisest or most efficient way to govern a nation.

Although Rove has been hailed as "the architect" and "Bush's brain," his electoral successes haven't been as great as the hype. Let's face it, the Supreme Court decided the 2000 election, and riding the coattails of 9/11 won the 2004 election.

Finally, as Kathleen Reardon has already written, haven't we heard this "spending more time with my family" excuse for resignation just a few times too many? Rove's son is in college. If he really wanted to spend more time with his family, why didn't he resign before his son's summer vacation? Unfortunately, I'm sure we haven't seen the last of this bastard.

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Wednesday, August 08, 2007
 
Bastard of the Day
I called out the cheating bastard Barry Bonds 14 months ago when he surpassed Babe Ruth on the all-time home run list. Unfortunately it's time to do it again now that he's broken Hank Aaron's record. Everyone knows about the steroid controversy clouding the most productive years of Bonds' career, and most of us are pretty sure he's guilty. On top of that, Bonds is also the consummate sports prima donna and an all-around jerk. There couldn't be a worse ambassador for baseball. That he kept playing once exposed shows his true character; someone with any respect for the game would have retired rather than continue playing to achieve a record under such dubious circumstances.

For another reason to brand Bonds a cheater, read this.

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Friday, August 03, 2007
 
Bastard of the Day
I was nice to her throughout her pathetic gubernatorial campaign, but today's award goes to Judy Baar Topinka for trading on her diminishing fame to skewer the Berwyn Spindle in today's Chicago Tribune. If we cared about her opinions, we would have elected her.

She loses credibility with her opening line: "Berwyn is a west suburban treasure." My father-in-law lives in Berwyn, so I go there regularly. It's not a bad town, but a treasure? I suppose it is if you compare it to neighboring Cicero, but that's not saying much. If Berwyn is a treasure, what would Topinka call the really nice towns in the western suburbs like Riverside, which was designed by legendary landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted?

That's enough about her op-ed piece. The funniest thing about Topinka is how people liked her less the better they got to know her. She rose to a statewide office (treasurer) with broad support. My lifelong Democratic mom even liked Topinka, and she certainly was easier to stomach than right-wing nuts like Alan Keyes (to Topinka's credit, she opposed him from the start). But once she won the primary, her image went straight downhill. It wasn't only incumbent Rod Blogojevich's "What's she thinking?" attack ad campaign. She just came across as a goof. That's why Blagojevich stomped all over her in the general election.

I'm not pleased with Blagojevich these days, either (how about signing those bicycling bills on your desk, Governor?), but that's a topic for another day.

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Wednesday, August 01, 2007
 
Bastard of the Day
It has to be EPA administrator Stephen Johnson, who claims that Indiana's BP butt-kissing is good for the Great Lakes. This article is so full of bullshit that it defies critical analysis (although Jennifer tries). It's no surprise that the Bush administration is against the environment in general (which is why Christie Todd Whitman quit the EPA), especially when it's sucking up to the oil industry. But like Senator Dick Durbin said, that doesn't make it acceptable.

An overwhelming majority of the U.S. House approved a resolution asking Indiana to reconsider its decision to let Bastard Polluters dump extra toxins into my drinking water, but the state doesn't care. I've had enough of their crap lately (the Illinoisans-pay-full-boat-on-the-toll-road debacle is another example). It's bad enough they gave us Dan Quayle. Let's declare those Hoosier bastards a "rogue state" and attack. Or better yet, let's make Indianapolis draw its drinking water out of Lake Michigan, preferably within 50 feet of the BP refinery's drainpipe. Then we'll see whether it really poses no threat to people.

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Monday, July 30, 2007
 
Bastard of the Day
Every so often, the capitalist pigs on the Chicago Tribune editorial staff get under my skin (alas, the only daily that annoys me more is the Chicago Sun-Times). Check out today's editorial claiming that American workers don't really want time off. Look at the facts used to support this ridiculous premise:
Even when vacation days are offered, Americans don't use them all. The average working adult American will fail to use three vacation days this year, according to the annual "vacation deprivation" survey by Expedia.com. That's down one day from last year's survey.
I have news for the editors: people aren't leaving vacation days on the table because they want to. With all the downsizing of the past couple of decades, people have more work to do than ever, and often there is no one to cover for them while they are gone. And of course, if the work doesn't get done, the employee is risking a bad review or even termination. There is tremendous pressure from management discouraging workers from using the vacation time they have earned. The next paragraph is just as weak:
Fewer Americans take long vacation trips, for example, and more take their vacation time as long weekends rather than full weeks. Their reasons: higher gas prices, unceasing customer needs and the difficulties faced by two-income couples in coordinating their vacation schedules.
How does this argue against offering more vacation time? Americans don't take longer trips because management rarely lets workers take more than a week off at a time. We were able to take a three-week vacation because I'm a freelancer and my wife is a police officer. Corporate America frowns on long vacations because there's usually no one else to do the work. They encourage long weekends because then people can work harder when they get back until they are caught up. "Unceasing customer needs" is not a reason for a worker to skip vacation; it's a reason management gives workers to discourage vacations. And couples would be able to coordinate their vacation schedules much more easily if the bosses gave them more time off or more flexibility in taking it. Employees don't suddenly love their jobs so much that they cannot bear to be away from them for more than a long weekend. This myth of "the happy workaholic" is ludicrous. It's all driven by anxiety -- fear of losing one's job or fear of losing one's pay (i.e., commissions, equity, bonuses, etc.). But wait, there's more...
Lest people in small business think they're slaving away while the boss is sunning in St. Barths, be assured they're not. A little more than half of the small-business owners in a Discover Financial Services survey took no more than one week of vacation last year, compared with 36 percent of the general population.
I have news for the editors: nobody in small business thinks that way. Why would they? Many small business owners put in well over 40 hours per week, and their employees know that. They often can't afford to hire people to do all that work in their absence. They also have too much personally at stake to risk having it fall apart while they are away for an extended period. Heck, lots of small businesses are one-person operations, like mine. If I go on vacation, nobody pays me or does my job. If we had a less secure financial position, I'd never take vacations.

When the bastards at the Tribune express their opinion, I expect better support than this ill-conceived editorial fluffed out with misinterpreted data. Do the editors really have no clue about how the rank and file feel, or is this just propaganda to try to convince them that they want to work hard and skip vacations?

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Thursday, July 26, 2007
 
Bastard of the Day
With all the doping drama in France this week, it's easy to forget there is bike racing all over the world. During yesterday's third stage of the International Tour de 'Toona (named for Altoona, PA), several riders were nearly killed by this impatient bastard truck driver who pulled his tractor-trailer loaded with earthmoving equipment out onto the course in front of them:
Cyclingnews.com has the series of photos by Kirt Jambretz/www.actionimages.cc :
There was really no reason for it. The driver ended up behind the bikes anyway, and he could have pulled out 20-30 seconds later without scaring the bejeezus out of everybody. It's highway terrorism. Where's the Department of Homeland Security when you need them?

Note to anyone who wishes I had used a better photo: since I do not own the rights, I would be uncomfortable using anything bigger than a thumbnail. Please visit the links to cyclingnews.com, and respect copyrighted material on the Internet!

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Wednesday, July 25, 2007
 
Bastard of the Day
Be careful what you say, lest it come back to haunt you. Today's winner is Cofidis pro cycling team manager Eric Boyer. Reacting to Alexandre Vinokourov's positive test for homologous blood doping at the Tour de France yesterday, Boyer said
I feel sick. I hope that Vinokourov won't be a coward and deny everything. He said that he worked with Ferrari (a doctor with connections to doping) just for training plans. He always told us what a brave guy he is, that he is stronger than the pain, that the French ride behind everyone else because they are lazier. Now we see that he is a big bastard. These practices discredit all of cycling again.
Well, today another cyclist, Cristian Moreni, tested positive for testosterone doping. And guess which team he rides for? Yep, Cofidis. Moreni and the entire team have withdrawn from the Tour. Now who's the "big bastard," Mr. Boyer?

The cynical among us (moi?) will say today's news is more proof that everyone in pro cycling is guilty of doping. If that is indeed true, then Boyer should have known better than to feign piety.

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Tuesday, July 24, 2007
 
Bastard of the Day
Okay, you've all been waiting for this... I am today's bastard.

I was sitting in my car at the Brown Line crossing on Rockwell Street waiting for a train. When a westbound train passed, a cyclist on the north side of the tracks pedaled around the still-lowered gates and continued south. And in that instant, I had two thoughts: 1.) a man from Milwaukee died doing the exact same thing in this exact same place last month, and 2.) I hope this guy gets creamed just to teach him a lesson for his stupidity, even though I'd rather not be a witness.

And that's where I crossed the line into bastardhood. My anger toward people who do stupid stuff, particularly on bicycles, has grown so intense that I wish death upon them for their ignorance. In that moment I was rooting for it to happen.

It turned out there was an eastbound train coming, but fortunately for the dumbass bike rider it stopped at the station. Sometimes trains that are "not in service" do pass through without stopping, so he was damn lucky -- there was no way he could have seen whether a train was coming through eastbound until it was too late. Oh well, I hope he made good use of the extra ten seconds he saved by risking his life. That's the kind of shit that gives CTA motormen nightmares.


Speaking of the Rockwell crossing (and other at-grade crossings on the Brown Line), why did the CTA (or the city) replace all the crossing gates a couple years ago without making each long enough to cross the entire street? Since I moved here nine years ago, there have probably been about 10 accidents involving idiots driving (or pedaling) around the gates. Adding ten feet to each gate would be a small price to pay to discourage this reckless behavior. There's nothing like a train crushing a car to screw up everyone's commute.

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Saturday, July 21, 2007
 
Bastard of the Day
After a slow but steady decline, Leona's Restaurants (the whole freakin' chain) are collectively the Bastard of the Day. It all started when they stopped offering meat lasagna several years ago. Sure, you can get the five-cheese lasagna with meat sauce on top, but it isn't the same. Then a year or two ago they eliminated their whole wheat crust pizza (which unlike most whole wheat crusts, did not taste like cardboard or sawdust) from the menu. Well, technically it wasn't eliminated from the menu because they kept passing out the old menus, but if you tried to order it, you were S.O.L.

The best pizza crust from Leona's has always been their delicious, buttery, cornmeal deep-dish. It was square to fill the entire box, and Leona's offered special toppings that weren't available on the "regular" thin crust. My favorite was the Italian meats pizza, which included the usual sausage and pepperoni along with tasty meatball slices. The sauce was thick and rich, and the cheese was plentiful.

So tonight when I ordered the Italian meats pizza from the new Leona's menu, I expected that fantastic pizza. The new menu doesn't say anything about the crust, but I assumed since it was more expensive than the thin crust and was categorized under "gourmet pizza pies" that it would be the cornmeal crust I love.

Alas, it was not; the Leona's deep-dish crust is no more. I paid $18.75 for a large pizza, and the crust was about two millimeters thick. Even if I didn't hate superthin crust (and I really, really do), this pizza was utter crap. The toppings were sparse, there was a mere hint of sauce, the cheese was adequate at best, and any spot not covered with cheese was charred. The superthin crust meant there was barely enough to feed the two of us; usually a large pizza is good for at least a lunch or two worth of leftovers.

My wife works evenings, and while she's working I eat cheap, mediocre dinners alone -- frozen lasagna, frozen pizza, chicken nuggets, maybe a bowl of cereal, or creamed chipped beef on toast for goodness' sake. When I'm eating with my wife, I want a good meal for a change. Leona's has always delivered (in all senses of the word) until tonight. I hope they realize their mistake and bring back the real pizza crust, and I hope they fire the bastard who took it off the menu in the first place. In the meantime, there are at least a dozen pizza joints nearby that make twice the pizza for two thirds of the price. Arrivederci, Leona's!

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Sunday, July 15, 2007
 
Bastard of the Day
The guy who stole my doorknob is today's bastard. My wife went out to put some garbage in the alley and discovered that the doorknob on our garage walk door facing the alley was missing. Fortunately, the guy (I suppose it could have been a gal, but I doubt it) was still unable to open the door after removing the knob, so nothing was missing from our garage. Then again, I could imagine someone breaking into our garage and deciding not to take anything. The only item of any value is my mother-in-law's old snow blower, but if that was really worth something she wouldn't have left it in our garage last winter -- she would have been using it herself. Our bicycles have been stored in our basement since two were stolen from our garage the day we got back from our honeymoon, so they weren't in danger. And our lawnmower is the kind without a motor, so I don't think anyone would steal that.

Regardless, some bastard did indeed try to break into our garage, and he stole a nice doorknob. Alas, my wife says the police will probably just write it up as "criminal damage to property" because they are under pressure to keep the numbers for crimes like "attempted burglary" to a minimum. But of course, the only reason for removing our doorknob was to attempt to gain entry into our garage. I mean, it wasn't that nice a doorknob that someone would just steal it and leave. Just to embarrass my wife, I threatened to call the police station every day for the next month to ask them whether they have any leads on our missing doorknob. Let's face it; reports like this might as well go into the circular file.

This is actually the second doorknob on that door to be vandalized in some way in the last five years (also, some gang bangers spray painted graffiti on our overhead door shortly after it was installed, for a total of four crimes against our garage since 1999). The first lock was a cheap no-name installed by a contractor, but this one is a Schlage. On the bright side, we never enter that door from the alley, so as long as it still locks from the inside I don't have to replace it.

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Saturday, July 14, 2007
 
Bastard of the Day
Today's winner is BP, which of course stands for Bastard Polluters. The state of Indiana has granted them permission to dump more ammonia and industrial sludge into Lake Michigan as part of a refinery expansion program. That's my drinking water, you bastards!

You can read the article for all of BP's public relations garbage about "minimal environmental impact," blah blah blah. But the state's explanation is even worse:
In response to public protests, state officials justified the additional pollution by concluding the project will create more jobs and "increase the diversity and security of oil supplies to the Midwestern United States." A rarely invoked state law trumps anti-pollution rules if a company offers "important social or economic benefits."
How many jobs? Eighty. That's all. So Indiana gave BP an exemption to pollute the drinking water of millions in the name of creating 80 jobs. Thanks a lot, you Hoosier bastards.

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Monday, July 02, 2007
 
Bastard of the Day
I haven't picked on George W. Bush for a while (sorry, I was on vacation!). It goes without saying that commuting the sentence of Scooter Libby is more than enough to earn today's award for Shrub.

"I respect the jury's verdict," Bush said in a statement. "But I have concluded that the prison sentence given to Mr. Libby is excessive. Therefore, I am commuting the portion of Mr. Libby's sentence that required him to spend thirty months in prison."
The President has absolutely no experience that would deem him capable of determining whether a sentence is excessive. It's not like he was ever a judge or even a lawyer. Bush respects the jury's verdict so much that he's wiping out the entire prison sentence, which means a hotel heiress' DUI merits more time behind bars than exposing a CIA agent and lying about it, at least if you're Dick Cheney's buddy.

Prison was the only notable punishment in Scooter's sentence. A fine of $250,000? Oh come on, these are Republicans! I'm sure at least a dozen CEOs have already offered to pick up the tab for Scooter (probably in exchange for the administration loosening some "restrictive" environmental laws). Two years of probation? Sheesh, even Scooter can probably keep his nose clean for two years. Commuting the prison portion of the sentence and saying you respect the jury's decision is like telling a dog you respect his right to breed as you're neutering him.

But I have a dream...

That someday the indictments and convictions against this administration will come down like rain from the sky, washing away the filth of the G.O.P. and leaving behind gleaming streets of gold in Washington, DC, which will be reclaimed by We, the people. The guilty will be locked away so quickly that Dubya can't keep up, no matter how hard he tries to protect his pals. And someday, George himself will be tried, convicted, and put away for countless crimes against country and humanity.

Somebody pinch me.

UPDATE 07/03/2007 - I can't believe I overlooked this angle: Bob Cesca reminds us that Bush wasn't so generous toward the convicted when he was governor of Texas. He even "wrote" (actually, I think Karen Hughes wrote) in his autobiographic A Charge To Keep, "I don't believe my role is to replace the verdict of a jury with my own." I couldn't make up a better quote. Cesca also notes that the same Republicans who wanted to impeach Bill Clinton for perjury are applauding Bush for going easy on Scooter's perjury. Two-faced bastards!

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Monday, May 21, 2007
 
Bastard of the Day
Although I had a great time signing books there last August, Borders in Lincoln Village earns today's award.

Before we left the house last night, I went to the Borders Web site to check their hours. Since they were supposed to be open until 10 PM, we went out to eat first, arriving at Borders around 8:35 PM. So imagine my surprise minutes later when a voice came over the P.A. with that familiar line: "Attention Borders Customers... The store will be closing in 15 minutes..."

We checked the hours on the front door as we left, and Sunday's closing time was blank. In other words, there was no clue anywhere that the bastards were closing at 9 PM. Why bother to put your store hours online if they are wrong?

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Thursday, May 17, 2007
 
Bastard of the Day
Today's award goes to the pizza delivery guy. For the first time in years, I opened the box to find all the cheese and toppings were shifted to one side. If not for the tall rim of the deep dish crust, my cheese would have been all over the box. The worst part is that I had already given the pizza-tilting bastard a good tip. Should I open the box at the door and inspect my pizza before tipping?

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Wednesday, May 16, 2007
 
Bastard of the Day
I suppose some might say I'm a bastard for using the occasion of someone's death to bestow this honor (see Ken Lay), but today's bastard is Jerry Falwell. I could give countless reasons, but here is my favorite. After 9/11 Falwell claimed he knew who was responsible:
The ACLU's gotta take a lot of blame for this. And I know I'll hear from them for this, but throwing God off successfully with the help of the federal court system, throwing God out of the public square, out of the schools. The abortionists have got to bear some burden for this because God will not be mocked. And when we destroy 40 million little innocent babies, we make God mad. I really believe that the Pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America. I point the finger in their face and say, "You helped this happen."
Gosh, that's even more misguided than, "They hate us for our freedom!" Even partner-in-crime Pat Robertson -- who at first agreed with Falwell -- distanced himself from the outrageous comments in the days that followed. I snagged an MP3 of this rant, and for five years it has resided on my hard drive in a directory titled "humor." But too many people really take crap like this seriously; too many people took Falwell seriously regardless of how ridiculous he sounded to America's immoral majority. Today the world is a better place without the bastard. For a timeline of the bad reverend's transgresssions, see The Carpetbagger Report.

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Wednesday, May 09, 2007
 
Bastard of the Day
Today's award goes to suburban xenophobes who oppose sidewalks. A Chicago Tribune article details the latest "controversy:" suburbanites don't want sidewalks because they are afraid of who might be walking in their neighborhoods:

[Hubert] Frank, 68, who organized a petition for Whitehall Drive, said sidewalks could also pose a safety risk by welcoming strangers into the neighborhood. "There's strange things happening in the world today, so why would we want to open up that possibility?" he said. "We are connected, we all know each other. The concern is, who knows what you'd be encouraging to come through."

Surely the next jihad will be charging into Northbrook on their new sidewalks!

As unbelievable as it may seem to suburbanites, some people walk places instead of driving everywhere. And some of those people are even employed and white just like you, you whiny bastards.

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Tuesday, May 08, 2007
 
Bastard of the Day
Today's bastard is doping cyclist Ivan Basso. From cyclingnews.com:
"Yes, I am Birillo. It was me that suggested to be called this way," said the former Discovery Channel rider, according to La Gazzetta dello Sport. After months of denials to any links with Doctor Eufemiano Fuentes and his offices that were raided in Operación Puerto Ivan Basso revealed that the name 'Birillo' that appeared on bags of blood sequestered were of significance... Basso had historically denied Birillo as being the name of his dog, he insisted in his original CONI summons that his dog's name was 'Tarello'.
You may think I am calling Basso a bastard for doping or for lying about it for so long. No, what makes Basso a bastard is that he dragged his dog into it!

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Tuesday, May 01, 2007
 
Bastard of the Day
Cabbie killer Michael Jackson is still a bastard. His exclusive interview with the local ABC affiliate did nothing to change my opinion.

He thinks his case would have turned out differently if the judge had allowed him to present the cabbie's prior offenses to the court. He just doesn't get it. It doesn't matter whether the cabbie was a saint or a sinner. It doesn't even matter that the cabbie threatened him first. What matters is that after his personal safety was no longer threatened, Jackson got behind the wheel of the cab and ran the guy over repeatedly. All he had to do was walk away, but he chose to kill. And I don't care if Jackson claims he thought he "only" ran over the cabbie once -- once was enough to crush him, and once was enough to deserve a conviction. He got off easy, really. With good behavior he'll be out in 2010.

But wait, there's more. Jackson whined that his charitable works were suppressed in court. Again, he doesn't get it. It wouldn't matter if he was Mother Teresa -- if you kill somebody, you have to pay the price.

And finally, there was Jackson's detached, pointless pseudo-apology to the family:
"I apologize that he's passed away. I apologize that the man decided to attack me," Jackson said. "I can't imagine what it's like to lose a father. For that, I'm very sorry for their loss."
What a bastard.

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Thursday, April 05, 2007
 
Bastard of the Day
The news is a week old, but I can't let Circuit City get by without an award. Last week the company laid off 8% of its workforce. Were they firing people for poor performance? No. Oh, then they must have been downsizing to be "leaner and meaner" by trimming unnecessary positions. Nope. Their press release dated March 28 says
The company has completed a wage management initiative that will result in the separation of approximately 3,400 store Associates. The separations, which are occurring today, focused on Associates who were paid well above the market-based salary range for their role. New Associates will be hired for these positions and compensated at the current market range for the job.
You have to love the language: "separation" is corporate-speak for "termination." We aren't firing people, we are merely separating them from their jobs and paychecks. A New York Times article puts it more bluntly:
...executives said the workers were being paid too much and that the company would replace them with new employees who would earn less. It was the second such layoff at Circuit City in the last five years, and it offered an unusually clear window on the ruthlessness of corporate efficiency.
Wage freezes have been common for a decade or more, but with this strategy Corporate America has fallen to a new low. I can think of no worse evisceration of the American Dream. We're told that if we work hard we'll get somewhere. But Circuit City is firing rank-and-file employees precisely because they worked hard and got bigger raises from their managers than the bosses at corporate desired. These employees were earning $10-20 per hour, not exactly a princely sum (I wonder how much the CEO makes). Instead of merely freezing their wages, Circuit City decided they'd rather hire a guy at $9/hour to do the same work as the guy earning $18/hour, regardless of how well or for how long the higher-paid employee served the company. They could at least have the decency to disguise it like companies did in the 1980s when older employees were offered early retirement packages to get their expensive butts off the payroll. But in today's environment, Circuit City can shamelessly announce that they are firing expensive people to hire cheaper labor as part of "realigning its cost and expense structure."

What is the incentive for those new $9/hour employees to work hard and dedicate themselves to a company that clearly considers them expendable? Perhaps at performance review time, they will beg their managers, "I know I've done great work here, but please, please don't give me a raise!"

The bastards have not completely abandoned the laid off workers, though. They are welcome to reapply for their old jobs in ten weeks, their personnel files presumably wiped clean of any record of their previous wages.

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Wednesday, January 31, 2007
 
Bastard of the Day
I have an unusual choice today, Consumer Reports. Normally I wholeheartedly support the efforts of this venerable, not-for-profit publication and its parent, Consumers Union. They are a rare organization that isn't in bed with corporate America, presenting product evaluations unbiased by advertising dollars.

But this week Consumer Reports has put me in a quandary. On Friday morning, my wife is flying to Dallas to visit her aunt and uncle. The March 2007 issue of Consumer Reports arrived Monday, and it includes an article titled "An accident waiting to happen? Outsourcing raises air-safety concerns."

Sh*t.

The gist of the story is that outsourced maintenance has less oversight (fewer licensed mechanics, weaker employee screening, etc.), plus the Federal Aviation Administration is doing fewer visual inspections of aircraft. So, do I share this article with my wife? If I do, it's liable to make her nervous or worse, and there isn't anything she can do about it (aside from cancelling her trip). But if I don't tell her, then what if a wing falls off or something? I'd have to live with the possibility that she might not have been on that plane if I had passed along the scary story from Consumer Reports. Great timing, you bastards.

UPDATE 02/01/2007 - Although I booked the flight through Southwest, the flight is actually on ATA. Consumer Reports lists ATA as the airline with the least outsourced maintenance (only 18% compared to 46-92% for other airlines), so I'm not going to worry about it.

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