if you ask me

This post was originally written in 2000, as a collection of thoughts about the way our society should function. Some of this content was taken from other sources and is not originally mine. I'm posting this unedited in original form, so many of the views likely no longer represent my current views on life.


  1. Privacy
  2. Respect Of The Individual
    1. Problems People Have
    2. Success
    3. Middle Stoppers
    4. Stereotyping Minorities
    5. Paternalistic Foreign Policy
    6. Religion
    7. Karma
    8. Treating Kids Like Adults
    9. Bullies
  3. Libertarianism
    1. Freedoms And Personal Responsibility
    2. Victimless Crimes
    3. Decriminalization Of Drugs
    4. Use Of Force And Defense Of Self And Others
    5. Freedom Of Speech As A Creation Of Problems
    6. My Increasing Disillusionment With The Second Amendment
    7. Zero Tolerance Is A Farce
  4. Ignorance And Hypocrisy Are The Roots Of All Evil
    1. Degrees Of Ignorance
    2. Organized Religion
    3. Elected Officials And Government
    4. Freedom Of Thought
    5. Dr. Laura
    6. Homosexuality
    7. The Fallacy Of The Gateway Theory
    8. The Legal System
    9. Blind Nationalism
    10. The Boy Who Cried Wolf
    11. Why I Don't Care About Elian Gonzalez
  5. My Theory On Consumer Capitalism
    1. Tipping
    2. Customer Service
    3. Renting An Apartment
    4. Efficiency
    5. Paying For Purchases
    6. It's Time To Modernize Some Business Models
  6. Unsorted Or Underdeveloped


There is certain information which I believe to be "private information."  Specifically, my social security number, my income and wealth (or lack thereof), my family history, my past, current and future health, my race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, place of birth, citizenship/nationality, and my religion.
If I want to disclose some or all of this information to people or companies with whom I do business, clearly that is my choice.  But I do not believe companies have any business inquiring about, knowing, sharing, nor tracking, my private information.  That is not to say that they do not have a right to do so, only that they should not.  To that end, if a company requires me to disclose my private information to them in order to establish or maintain a business relationship, I will take my business elsewhere.  That is, unless such disclosure is fundamental to the business relationship, e.g. when one applies for credit, one's financial history is fundamental to that transaction.
We entrust the government with a substantial amount of private information about us when we are born, married, pay taxes, utilize benefits, and apply for privileges such as driving.  In its role as a trustee of that information, the government should be prohibited from disclosing that private information to companies who do not have a relationship with the person whose information they desire.


A. Problems People Have

We all have problems and struggles in our lives.  Mine are different from yours, but that doesn't mean they are any less valid.  Former criminals, drug users and alcoholics should not be congratulated nor rewarded for their reformations, unless people who have never been criminals, drug users or alcoholics are similarly congratulated and rewarded for their abstinence.
When I was in the sixth grade, the school I attended would reward "problem" students with a candy bar when they had gone one week without receiving any reprimands.  I asked my teacher why I didn't get a candy bar, when I had gone the entire year without any reprimands.  The response was that the purpose of the candy bar was to reward problem students for not engaging in problem behavior.  But what I learned was that it paid to be bad, because then and only then you would get a reward for being good.  I can't blame my teacher though - she was a victim of midwestern narrow-minded thinking.

B. Success

My measurement of success is likely not the same as yours.
C. Middle-Stoppers
You are not the only person in the world.   This applies when you are driving, walking down the sidewalk or walkway, exchanging ideas, and meeting new people.  People who drive slowly in the left lane, fail to get the hell out of the way of an emergency vehicle, or walk in the middle of a pathway, get what they deserve if they get run over.  Don't stop in the middle of the grocery store aisle.  Don't stop in the middle of a busy sidewalk.  Don't stop in the middle of a busy walkway.  There's other people behind you who don't want to stop and watch whatever it is you are doing, so move to the side!
If you don't know how to drive, or you learned how through a correspondence course (these don't really exist, but some people drive as though they do), please, find someone who knows how to drive and get them to teach you.

D. Stereotyping Minorities

A Lesson in Logic, Part 1:  Just because a lot of [ stereotype ] are [ minority ] does not mean that a lot of [ minorities ] are [ stereotype ].  Examples:

* Just because a lot of criminals are black does not mean that a lot of blacks are criminals.
Just because a lot of engineers are Asian does not mean that a lot of Asians are engineers.
Just because a lot of bigots are white does not mean that a lot of whites are bigots.

For this reason, racial profiling should be prohibited as a means of law enforcement.

E. Paternalistic Foreign Policy

The United States repeatedly assumes an obligation to interfere with the governance and disputes of less powerful sovereign nations, claiming various self-serving justifications.  The U.S. government lies to its own citizens by using propaganda to rally Americans into supporting these "conflicts".  If the roles were reversed, I suspect we would not be long tolerating Japanese troops on our street corners, Iraq controlling our economy, and China boycotting our products because our Constitution violates human rights due to its foundations in slavery of an entire race of people.  When the South refused to integrate, and the National Guard was sent to force integration, Russia didn't send aircraft carriers to drop bombs on our country to protest our use of force against our citizens... nor would we have tolerated such actions, which we are now doing to Serbia and Kosovo. What if bombs were dropped on America every time a different political party came into control of our government, as we did to Vietnam and Korea?
Not every economy is the same as ours.  Before condemning businesses for setting up shop in foreign countries and paying their employees wages which are less than that to which we are accustomed, inquire about the economy and standard of living of the foreign country, to determine if the company's presence presents an opportunity or detriment for the employees.  We should not assume that a foreign government is incapable of establishing the same regulation and control of minimum wage and working conditions that our own government has bestowed upon us.
The U.S. likes to tell other countries that they are violating the human rights of their citizens.  Russia was a popular target in the '70's and '80's.  The '90's saw our focus change to China and some of the Middle-Eastern countries.  Aside from the problem I have with one country telling another sovereign nation how they should govern themselves and organize their society, what I find particularly disturbing is the U.S.'s own human rights record.  Let's examine:

Native Americans.  When our country was discovered, the explorers infected the native inhabitants with deadly diseases, and then swindled them out of their land and possessions.  Those who didn't peacefully leave their land to make way for the Europeans were forced out under threat of slavery or death, and countless numbers were exterminated.  Those who survived have live on lands designated for them by the government.  The government continues to take away these lands, which were never suitable for self-sustainment in the first place.  As a population, Native Americans are among the most impoverished minority in our country.
The institution of slavery -- quite possibly the worst human rights violation ever -- was practiced from the day settlers stepped foot on our soil, and we continue to feel the effects today.  Slaver is enshrined in our Constitution, and was legally practiced for several hundred years on our soil.  We are now in the midst of the after-effects, more than 150 years after slavery was finally prohibited.  The race which was enslaved faces some of the most severe discrimination seen in the world, and there is no end in sight.

Certainly there are other examples of human rights violations in America.  These are but two examples which disturb me the most.  Until we clean up our own act, we should not be telling other countries how to behave.
Another example of our messed up foreign policy was the Vietnam War.  I think Vietnam vets are owed our complete support, and I think the government and society has really screwed a lot of these guys.  It wasn't their choice to go to war, and we have treated them like crap.  However, I think the war itself was wrong, and the politicians who got us into that war were morons.  Let's admit one thing to ourselves:  We lost the war.  The Vietnamese won.  58,000 Americans died, for absolutely no good reason. The Oval Office tapes of President Johnson tell us that he knew we would loose the war, but he sent our troops in anyhow.  And to get America to go along with his plan, he lied about an American ship being bombed in the Gulf of Tonkin.  Another lie:  South Vietnam was never a democracy.  It was a totalitarian state led by a puppet leader who we installed after we helped assasinate the former leader.  We were supposedly fighting the spread of communism, a political system which we thought was evil, but no one ever told us why.  In the 1940's, during World War II, a Vietnamese leader named Ho Chi Minh sided with America and the Allies to defeat the Japanese and Germans. After the war, he came to Washington in the hopes of convincing the President and Congress to back his people's struggle to be free. He was certain that the Americans, whose own country was founded through a revolution against a foreign king, would back his efforts to create a free and democratic Vietnam. He was not a "Communist" then. His hero was George Washington. The Vietnamese Constitution he proposed was based on the U.S. Constitution, which he thought to be a profound document. The Congress and the President turned him away.  Ho and the Vietnamese were forced to look for help elsewhere. And the rest is history.  Over two million Vietnamese died in the war.  John McCain, who lost the bid for the 2000 Presidential election, killed some of them.  In fact, when his plane was shot down, he was on his way to bomb innocent children in Hanoi.

F. Religion

If someone has made a conscious choice to believe in God or Jesus, that's fine. But I resent anyone who phones or approaches me and tries to convince me that I should share in their belief. I also resent those who brainwash their children (or other's children) with a specific religious affiliation. Let the person decide for himself when he is old enough and knowledgeable enough to make that choice!  Yes, I've found Jesus ... and he's tied up in my trunk.

G. Karma

What goes around, comes around.

H. Treating Kids Like Adults

One of the defining points of my adolescence was when I was 15 years old, flying on an airplane from Ohio to California, seated next to a businessman in his early 50's.  I was minding my own business, reading a magazine, when, mid-flight, he turned to me and asked, "What do you do?"  I thought that was a silly question.  "I'm in high school" I answered.  He responded, "Yes, but what do you do?"  It then dawned on me that just because I was a high school kid didn't mean that I didn't do important things.  I told him about my interests and activities in ham radio, and some of my other hobbies, and what I wanted to do in the future.  Ever since that point, I realized that because I was doing important adult activities in my hobbies, I should expect to be treated like an adult, even though I was a teenager.  His interest in what I "did" showed me tremendous respect, and gave me the self-esteem I needed to do things like speaking in front of hundreds of people at ham radio conventions and being the youngest president of my local ham radio club.

I. Bullies

Her name was Heather Davis. I owe my hatred and resentment of small-town Ohio and the people who live there to her. Heather was a classmate of mine in the fifth and sixth grades. For a number of reasons, she was an incredibly insecure person, one of which was that I threatened her standing as the smartest person in the class. The other was that her father, a sixth grade teacher, was rumored to be gay, and somehow ended up as a waiter at the local Ponderosa restaurant. She dealt with her varied emotional problems the same way that her parents dealt with theirs: By being a bully. Every day I went to school knowing that she would be there to yell names at me and even physically harass me. I often went home in tears. After almost two years, I told my mom I had enough - I refused to go back to school, and if I was forced to, I would kill myself before facing the wrath of Heather Davis again. The next day, my mom intervened with the school and most of the bullying stopped.

If I knew then what I know now, I would have sued the school district and Heather Davis for intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress, assault, and battery. I trusted the school to protect me from physical and mental abuse, but they failed to do so, despite knowing that the abuse was present. Bullying is not normal childhood interaction. It is no more normal in children at school than it is in adults in the workplace. It commonly exists in both situations, and schools as well as employers should not tolerate such behavior. Bullying is an abnormal way for people to deal with their emotional problems. It is not acceptable, and must not be tolerated.


A. Freedoms And Personal Responsibility

You should be able to do whatever you want without interference by society or individuals, so long as you don't infringe upon others' right to do the same, and you are willing to take complete and total personal responsibility for your actions.
I should not be required to financially support someone who has made conscious choices to lead a lifestyle that they are unable to support themselves.  I may choose to help someone in need of charity, but I should not be forced to do so.  Similarly, others should not be required to financially support me as a result of my lifestyle choices, and I am working hard to make sure that I will always be self-sufficient.
The bankruptcy code should be repealed.  If you don't have the money to spend, don't spend it.  If you spend money you don't have, you shouldn't be able to screw your creditors simply by virtue of your stupidity.
I surfed across this "Bill of No Rights" and I think that it echoes many of my sentiments:
Bill of No Rights
We, the sensible people of the United States, in an attempt to help everyone get along, restore some semblance of justice, avoid any more riots, keep our nation safe, promote positive behavior, and secure the blessings of debt free liberty to ourselves and our great- great-great-grandchildren, hereby try one more time to ordain and establish some common sense guidelines for the terminally whiny, guilt ridden, delusional, and other bedwetters.
  We hold these truths to be self-evident: that a whole lot of people are confused by the Bill of Rights and are so dim that they require a Bill of NO Rights:
  ARTICLE I: You do not have the right to a new car, big screen TV or any other form of wealth. More power to you if you can legally acquire them, but no one is guaranteeing anything.
  ARTICLE II: You do not have the right to never be offended. This country is based on freedom, and that means freedom for everyone -- not just you! If you feel yourself becoming offended, you may leave the room, turn the channel, express a different opinion, etc.
  ARTICLE III: You do not have the right to be free from harm. If you stick a screwdriver in your eye, learn to be more careful, do not expect the tool manufacturer to make you and all your relatives independently wealthy.
  ARTICLE IV: You do not have the right to free food and housing. Americans are the most charitable people to be found, and will gladly help anyone in need, but we are quickly growing weary of subsidizing generation after generation of professional couch potatoes who achieve nothing more than the creation of another generation of professional couch potatoes.
  ARTICLE V: You do not have the right to free health care. That would be nice, but from the looks of public housing, we're just not interested in public health care.
  ARTICLE VI: You do not have the right to physically harm other people. If you kidnap, rape, intentionally maim, or kill someone, don't be surprised if the rest of us want to see you fry in the electric chair.
  ARTICLE VII: You do not have the right to the possessions of others. If you rob, cheat or coerce away the goods or services of other citizens, don't be surprised if the rest of us get together and lock you away in a place where you still won't have the right to a big screen color TV or a life of leisure.
  ARTICLE VIII: You do not have the right to demand that our children risk their lives in foreign wars and peacekeeping missions to soothe your aching conscience. We hate oppressive governments and we won't lift a finger to stop you from going to fight if you'd like. However, we do not enjoy parenting the entire world and do not want to spend so much of our time battling each and every little tyrant with a military uniform and a funny hat.
  ARTICLE IX: You don't have the right to a job. All of us sure want all of you to have one, and will gladly help you along in hard times, but we expect you to take advantage of the opportunities of education and vocational training laid before you to make yourself useful.
  ARTICLE X: You do not have the right to happiness. Being an American means that you have the right to pursue happiness - which by the way, is a lot easier if you are unencumbered by an overabundance of idiotic laws created by those of you who were confused by the Bill of Rights.

B. Victimless Crimes

Victimless crimes do have a victim: the person convicted.  Crimes which have no victim, including personal drug use and possession and prostitution, should be decriminalized and persons convicted of those crimes set free.  It is intolerable that we have to bankroll "wars" to fight activities which have been ongoing and unstoppable since the beginning of time.  Those efforts, time, money and jail space should be focused on crimes with victims.

C. Decriminalization Of Drugs

Assuming, for the sake of argument, that illegal drugs are a problem in our country, the present course of action in combating that problem (the War on Drugs) is a failure, and as history has shown, will continue to be a failure.  Can we not learn from our mistakes and move on?  Apparently not.  Legalization or decriminalization of drugs would not stop the use of drugs.  But why is that our goal?  Illegal drugs are relatively harmless compared to alcohol and tobacco, and hey, if someone wants to fill themselves up with a mind-numbing product, that's not my concern.  Decriminalization would remove the criminal element from the cash flow equation, and allow the government to realize revenue from the taxation of the sale of drugs.  Rather than following the path of curtailing the supply, which by all accounts has failed, spend resources on health programs for drug users and education programs designed to diminish the demand for drugs.  The AMA says that drug addiction is a disease and should be treated as such.  Maybe we should listen to our country's finest doctors and treat this problem, rather than listening to the military (not known for their medical expertise), who wants to "declare war" on every problem our country has.  Prohibition should have taught us something.  Our drug policy is a mess, and seriously in need of a basic reorientation.

D. Use Of Force And Defense Of Self And Others

The initiation of the use of force, whether by a person or a government, against another person or another government, is impermissible.
Individuals have a responsibility and a right to defend against the infringements of their rights, and when asked, to assist others in similar defenses.
The primary purpose of the government should be to ensure that the rights of its citizens are not infringed upon by neither internal nor external threats.  The government should also, when able and willing, assist other sovereigns in similar defenses upon request.
Bullying should not be tolerated, in any form.  On the school playground and in the workplace, bullying is a form of subrogation which assaults the self-esteem and spiritual psyche of the victim.  Schoolyard bullies should be expelled, and adult bullies should be stood up to and silenced.

E. Freedom Of Speech As A Creation Of Problems

Violence is not caused by the free access to information.  Watching violent movies or knowing how to make a pipe bomb does not cause violence.  Censorship will not decrease violence - quite the contrary, history shows us that prohibition and censorship has only increased crime.  Parents and teachers must do their jobs in order to reduce violence.
When I was a kid, I used to watch the Dukes of Hazard TV show.  That show featured more car crashes than any other show I've ever seen!  Now that I'm an adult, I drive a car.  Did watching that show make me want to crash my car?  Never!  Not even as a child watching the TV show did I expect cars to crash like that in real life.  We should not presume a causation element where there is none.
Schools which ban the wearing of certain colors or symbols, such as the Star of David or clothing with the word "hemp" on it, have completely missed the boat on curbing gang violence.  Restricting the rights of non-gang members empowers gangs.  The only way to solve the "gang problem" (and I'm not talking about peaceful assembly or drugs here - I'm talking about physical violence perpetrated by groups of people) is to strictly, consistently, and when justified, harshly punish the people who perpetrate the crimes.
Flag Burning:  I do not understand the arguments in favor of a constitutional amendment prohibiting flag burning.  Our country was founded on the principle that people could express their disillusionment with the country without fear of the persecution which those who founded the country faced in the United Kingdom.  Much blood has been shed to defend that right.  The Supreme Court has held time and time again that symbolic speech, including flag burning, is without a doubt included in free speech.  After all, what better way to symbolize one's disillusionment with one's country than to burn the country's flag?  The ultimate irony of the proposed amendment is that one would be free to burn the American flag in a foreign country, but would lack that freedom here in the one country that is supposedly built on the principles of freedoms and free speech.  
The argument often used in support of a flag burning amendment is that our veterans didn't fight in wars so that we could burn the flag (implying that the flag is intrinsically tied to veterans, and they would be deeply offended by the burning of the flag).  No question about it, our veterans have sacrificed much to defend our country.  It also may be true that many veterans would be offended at the sight of someone burning the flag. However, those facts are insufficient justification for amending the Constitution to water down the Bill of Rights. The reason why the First Amendment is so important is not because it protects speech that is inoffensive. To the contrary, its importance lies in the fact that it protects offensive speech because speech that is inoffensive does not need protecting.  I would think that the proposed Nazi speech in Skokie was much more offensive to the Jewish residents there then any type of flag burning speech would be to veterans. Should there be a constitutional amendment to outlaw Nazi speech?  What about generally anti-American speech? Where do you draw the line? If the line is drawn at the place where speech is offensive to a politically popular group like veterans, then what you end up with is no freedom of speech at all. Our veterans did not fight only for our country. They fought for the ideals behind our country, which include the right to speak politically unpopular thoughts in politically unpopular ways.

F. My Increasing Disillusionment With The Second Amendment

As a libertarian, but not a gun owner nor supporter of the NRA, I have believed in the right of the people to bear arms. This is a right we are guaranteed in the Constitution, and a right we should enjoy under the basic doctrine of freedom and individual liberty. When someone abuses this right and infringes upon the freedoms of others by use of a gun, the perpetrator should be consistently, swiftly and harshly punished, and more so than is presently done. That is the mantra of the Libertarian Party. For the most part, I still believe in this basic ideology, and I do not take changing political and legal philosophies lightly, but I am starting to question my belief in the Second Amendment and the ability of our society to handle their freedoms with maturity.

Just a few weeks before I wrote this, on February 29, 2000, a 6-year old boy brought a semi-automatic gun to his Flint, Michigan elementary school and killed 6-year old Kayla Rolland. The gun belonged to his uncle, with whom he lived (his father was in jail). He lives in an impoverished area, and goes to a school where the majority of the students' families are well below the poverty line. But that is beside the point, and by way of background only, not in any way as a justification for the shooting.

The statistics I feel are relevant are that in 1999, 16,000 people were killed by people using guns in the US and 15,500 of these were killed by someone they knew (husband, boyfriend, neighbor) or by someone at work. Approximately 500 were killed by a stranger who broke into their home and 300 of those were killed by their own gun. By way of contrast, Great Britain, a nation of 60 million people, in 1999 experienced a grand total of 12 murders by people using guns. Handguns are totally banned in Great Britain, as in Australia, Japan, Hong Kong, Canada, and most of New York City. In New York City, the number of murders by firearm there has dropped from 2,200 a year to 600.

I am having an increasingly difficult time maintaining my faith in the ability of society to function with the right to have firearms under a libertarian system based on freedoms and rights. This difficulty comes as a result of the tremendous amount of violence that is occurring in America by people wielding guns. I don't have the solution any more than the politicians do, but each act of violence like the Kayla Rolland murder and the Columbine massacre pushes me towards further towards the side of stricter regulation.

I have no doubt that the people who wrote the Constitution believed the Second Amendment was vital to the security of the nation. After all, it was second only to freedom of speech and religion. No doubt most of the citizens, almost all of whom were gun owners, did as well. But reliance on the Second Amendment is wearing thin with me, especially in light of what I view as an increasing abuse of that right. Rights are not absolute, and when society abuses a right in the way that the Second Amendment is currently being abused, it is time to reexamine and reevaluate that right.

Times were different 225 years ago: There was no army or police force to protect the people, so guns were the only defense the people had against domestic and foreign intruders. The guns themselves were unrecognizable compared to modern firearm technology. And the people who used and owned them treated them much differently than we do - resulting in none of the gun violence that we are presently experiencing. Additionally, I'm not convinced that handguns provide much benefit to us, while the harm is increasingly obvious.

It's easy to criticize the status quo, and hard to come up with workable solutions. The only way to reverse or amend the Second Amendment is by constitutional amendment, and that would be nearly impossible given this country's divide on the issue. Therefore, we need to find other solutions, including education and regulation.

If I were put in the hypothetical position of power to come up with a solution, I do not know what that solution would be. But I would probably start by requiring public education, licensing and training, akin to what is required to drive a car. A more extreme measure is to ban handguns, as in most other countries, but I am sure that the effects of prohibition would be worse than the existing problem.

Prohibitions don't work in America - they never have, and I doubt they ever will. But we have to do something to stem the bloodshed, and by doing nothing, we look like a bunch of idiots.

G. Zero Tolerance Is A Farce

If you ever wanted an example of a stupid idea with good intentions, 'zero tolerance' is that example. Despite the fact that the U.S. Department of Education reports that crime on school campuses is down by as much as 30% in the past decade, school administrators are instituting zero tolerance as a way of showing panicked parents that the schools were taking action against what they falsely perceived as out-of-control violence.

The result? Kids who take plastic knives to school to spread peanut butter on bread are expelled. Asthmatics are suspended for taking their prescribed medication. And these students must disclose this punishment on college and employment applications.

Of course, these laws are completely ineffective at preventing violence: Students who carry guns to school, such as the shooters in Littleton, Colorado, could care less about zero tolerance laws.

Students should not be suspended for having aspirin in their backpack. If that is what the war on drugs has come to, then it's not just the zero tolerance laws which are stupid, it's the parents, teachers and school administrators.


A. Degrees Of Ignorance

There are two degrees of ignorance:  Knowledge ignorance, and stupid ignorance.  There is nothing wrong with knowledge ignorance, which we all have about various topics, and can usually be remedied by formal or informal education.  Stupid ignorance is a much more severe degree of ignorance which is caused by ignoring the opportunity for education (being born in a midwestern trailer park doesn't help).
Religious organizations and elected public officials present a plethoric abyss of ignorance and hypocrisy.

B. Organized Religion

In addition to being ignorant and hypocritical, organized religion is a fraud.  Churches use the fear of death to defraud otherwise ignorant commoners of a disproportionate amount of their income.  Of course, it's a brilliant business scheme, but still a fraud.
Catholic priests don't seem to be able to keep their hands off of little boys.  How is it that the all-mighty God is unable to keep these priests from sexually abusing and torturing innocent children?  The Catholic church is spending millions of dollars to ensure that gays will not be able to have the same civil rights as straights, and yet they cannot manage to keep their priests from raping children.  As Christian Clemmensen said, "Somebody! Please tell these priests to keep their hands off the alter boys. When Jesus said '...suffer the little children come unto me,' that's not what he was talking about!"
The Mormon "moron" Church was once one of the largest proponents of bigamy our society has ever had.  It was only after the government prohibited the bigamists from practicing their "sinful" acts that the Morons told their members to stop practicing bigamy.  Now, the church is spending millions of dollars to prevent gays from getting equal civil rights as straight people, claiming being gay is immoral and unnatural.  And they don't think that bigamy is also?  Why is it that one man marrying five women is just fine and dandy, but two men in a committed relationship causes the Moron Church so much grief?
I find it ironic that the Moron Church was spending millions of dollars to prevent gays from getting married, while at the same time they said not a word of protest when FOX aired "Who Wants To Marry a Millionaire?" - where a live marriage ceremony was performed on nationwide TV, only to be nullified by husband and wife when they realized they did the marriage just for publicity.  Whose marriage is the Moron Church protecting?  These televised sham marriages?
Your interpretation of a religious dogma or ideology, such as the Bible, is purely subjective, and completely meaningless to me.  Do not presume to tell me that your interpretation is more valid than mine, or that my life should, in any way, be restricted by your interpretation.
If someone has made a conscious choice to believe in God or Jesus, that's fine. But I resent anyone who phones or approaches me and tries to convince me that I should share in their belief. I also resent those who brainwash their children (or other's children) with a specific religious affiliation. Let the person decide for himself when he is old enough and knowledgeable enough to make that choice!  Yes, I've found Jesus ... and he's tied up in my trunk.  (Thanks to Christian Clemmensen for some of the language in this paragraph).
I'm not a biblical scholar, but I know enough about Christianity to know that Jesus was a rather compassionate fellow.  He didn't shun the sick or the prostitutes - he took them under his wing, so to speak.  It is hypocritical and intolerable that so many of his so-called followers fail to follow his example.  The Mormons, Jimmy Falwell, and Fred Phelps, just to name a few, tell us that "God Hates Gays" and that gays are evil.  They exposed similar propaganda against racial minorities in the 1950's and 1960's.  That hardly seems compassionate.  Of course, the church's racist interpretations of the bible were reversed when racism was no longer in vogue, seeming to reinforce my view that religious dogma is not handed down by the Almighty, but rather selectively adopted by the church to further whatever their present agenda is, be it racism, bigotry, or invading other people's privacy.  The church has little to do with furthering the stoic goals and principles of Jesus Christ, but more to do with advancing a flimsy agenda created to suit the whims of the Christian leaders.

C. Elected Officials And Government

Elected officials who are exposed as hypocrites should be banished from public office.
Newt Gingrich screamed for family values and the Defense of Marriage Act, all the while carrying on an affair behind his wife's back with a girl half his age.  He told his wife he was divorcing her while she was in the hospital receiving treatment for cancer.  What kind of family values is that?  And where were the republicans and their family values when Juan Miguel Gonzalez wanted his little boy, Elian, back?  They wanted to hold investigatory hearings ... until they found out the American people supported the reunification of Elian with his dad.  How 'bout them family values?
Senator Bob Barr, who wrote the Defense of Marriage Act, has been married three times.  Which one of his marriages is he defending?  Bill Clinton signed the act in the very room in which he received oral sex from his mistress.  What's so great about these marriages that deserve defense?
The chief of the LAPD should be dragged out of his office, onto the street, beaten just like Rodney King, and then prosecuted for a crime he didn't commit based on false testimony by LAPD officers, and sentenced to life in prison, just like so many innocent people have been in Los Angeles as a result of the LAPD corruption.  Maybe then he'll understand.
Term limits?  We already have 'em.  They're called elections.  Doesn't get any more democratic than that.

D. Freedom Of Thought

I do not need talking heads to tell me how to think.  How did people ever manage to survive before we had TV and radio commentators to tell us how we should interpret modern events and today's news?  Give me the facts, and I will draw my own conclusions.
Just because someone says it's so, doesn't automatically make it so.  Dare to question what religious zealots, politicians, authority figures and commentators tell us to believe.  There doesn't have to be just one way to do something, and just because it's always been done a certain way doesn't mean it should continue that way, or that the status quo is the best way of doing something.

E. Dr. Laura

Dr. Laura is a hypocrite and a bigot.  Example:  She instructs her listeners to be honest, yet she denied that nude pictures of her were authentic, only to later recant and admit that they were indeed really of her.  She tells people that she will not donate to AIDS charities until gay bathhouses are shut down - this is hypocritical because she does not discourage donation to cancer charities until people stop smoking.
Thank you, KGO Radio AM-810, for dropping the Dr. Laura show, effective July, 2000.

F. Homosexuality

The U.S. military doesn't want gays to serve in the armed forces.  All other western countries allow gays to serve in the military, but the U.S. has yet to be enlightened in this regard.  Canada and Israel report having none of the problems with having gays serve in the military that the U.S. fears:  There has been no demoralization, and no privacy problems.  It seems that once again, the United States is behind the times in the area of bigotry and discrimination.
If the military wishes to discriminate against gays by not allowing them to enlist in the armed forces, then I do not see any reason why gays should be subject to the draft.  Gays should be exempt from registering with the Selective Service System, and should be exempt from a draft, should one occur.  After all, if "unit cohesion" is the reason why gays must be excluded from the military during peacetime, how would that change during time of war?  If anything, I would think unit cohesion would be more important during time of war.  So let's be consistent:  No gays in the military means no need for registration with the Selective Service.
This section could go under "Respect of the Individual," but I'll place it here instead, since I believe the root cause of homophobia is ignorance and hypocrisy, which creates a lack of respect for the individual.  Much of this was taken from an essay by Nathan Sanders:
Homophobia is generally found in two arguments:  The Choice and The Bible.  The Choice is that a gay person has chosen to be gay, and therefore should make the choice not to be gay in order to avoid moral destruction.  Apparently, believers in The Choice think that gay people wake up one day, decide that their life is boring, and choose to make a drastic change to a lifestyle which is the target of hatred.  To believers in The Choice, I ask:  When did you chose to hate broccoli?  When did you chose to be attracted to red-heads, or tanned skin, or blue eyes?  And why on earth would anyone chose to persecuted and hated, to be a target for beatings and murder, and to be ostracized from society?  Whatever causes sexuality --- genes, environmental influence, the food the mother eats during pregnancy --- does not matter.  Gay people are who they are, and they cannot change it, and most would not change it.  This goes back to "respect of the individual."
As for The Bible, Jesus himself never once said anything about homosexuality, and you'd think that if homosexuality was as big of a sin as Christians make it out to be, the very Savior of Christianity would have said at least one passage. But nope, not a single word.  It must not have been that important to him.  You have to be just a bit worried when the central figure of your religion doesn't mention something about what you believe to be a major sin.  In fact, none of the four Gospels mention homosexuality --- the messages therein are concerned with acceptance, love, and not judging others.
From the Old Testament, you have the Holiness Code from Leviticus, which bans many acts such as wearing clothes made from two clothes, planting fields with two seeds, eating pork, etc. as well as same-sex intercourse. Of course, many Christians ignore these restrictions, and there does not seem to be any reason other than fear or hatred to single out particular sins from the Holiness Code.
The story of Sodom and Gomorrah is typically used as an example of how God punishes homosexuals. But read your Bible carefully, in particular Luke 10:10-13 and Ezekiel 16:49-50. Their sin was not homosexuality--- it was inhospitality and failure to take care of the poor (sins many Christians commit indiscriminately today).
And what of the remaining passages in the Bible that "condemn" homosexuality (Romans 1:26-2:1, I Corinthians 6:9-11, and Timothy 1:10)? For starters, they were all written by one man, Saint Paul. Seems kind of hard to believe that centuries of hatred and loathing are based on the writings of one man, in a religion based on love, forgiveness, non-judgementality, and acceptance of mortal flaws (remember when Jesus said in defense of an adulteress: "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone"?).
And Paul wasn't the best person to take advice from: he believed that government authority was not to be questioned; he believed that women should wear veils; and he was anti-Semitic. What makes Paul's views on homosexuality more valid than his views on government, women, or the Jewish people?

G. The Fallacy Of The Gateway Theory

Lesson in Logic, Part 2:  Just because a lot of X did Y doesn't mean that Y results in X.  This type of logical error, called post hoc ergo propter hoc (after which, therefore because of which), is often employed in the failed War on Drugs.  Part of the propaganda employed in this "War" is that using marijuana leads to using cocaine and other harder drugs (the often heralded "gateway drug" theory).  This propaganda has been used to fight the legalization of marijuana for medicinal purposes, and to counter the scientifically proven arguments that marijuana is a relatively benign drug.
The logical fallacy is that just because a lot of cocaine users once used marijuana, therefore using marijuana results in using cocaine.  I'll use an example to illustrate:  A lot of people who have been in car accidents have eaten french fries in the week preceding their car accident.   Using the same logic as the "gateway drug" propaganda, it therefore follows that eating french fries leads to car accidents.  Of course, this is utter nonsense!
A second illustrative example:  A lot of people who use cocaine regularly drank alcohol before using cocaine.  Using the "gateway drug" fallacy, it should therefore follow that regularly drinking alcohol leads to cocaine use.   Of course, this is wrong.  There is no statistically significant correlation between eating french fries and car accidents, drinking alcohol and using cocaine, nor marijuana use and cocaine use.  Until such a correlation is found to exist, the "gateway drug" theory is pure propaganda, and completely illogical.

H. The Legal System

Jury Nullification:  I've never sat on a jury, and as an attorney I probably never will.  I don't doubt that the job of a juror is very difficult, and it is easy to second-guess the decisions jurors have made.  Not wanting to be left out, there are a few decisions I would like to second guess:  1. O.J. was found not guilty not because he didn't kill Ron and Nicole (of course he did!), but because the prosecution and what they had to work with was an incompetent match for the Dream Team.  I would have voted "guilty."  2. What is it with white police officers shooting and beating unarmed people, and the juries who find them not guilty?  Amadou Diallo was shot at 41 times by four New York City's finest for doing nothing other than holding his wallet.  What more did the jury need to find the police officers guilty?  A life sentence seems appropriate to me.
The Emasculation of the Judiciary: About once a month, some court hands down a decision and radio talk show hosts get upset at the court for issuing the decision, which they view as the wrong decision.  They blame the judge for the decision, which they say defies common sense.  But more often than not, the judge has no control over the outcome, because our state legislature has passed so many laws which bind the hands of the judge.  Case in point:  Thomas and Denise Rossi had been married in California for 25 years.  They shared everything, even their toothbrush.  That is, until Denise won $1.3 million dollars in the California Lottery, and didn't tell her husband.  Instead, she filed for divorce, and kept all of the money.  When Thomas accidentally found out about the winnings, he sued her, claiming she withheld community property.  In In re Marriage of Rossi (1999), the judge ruled that Denise violated the fiduciary duty which married couples have, and awarded Thomas 100% of the earnings.  The irony is that had Denise disclosed the lottery winnings, she would have been able to keep 50%.  But because she acted with malice, oppression and fraud, she lost it all.  Some people, mainly feminists, were up in arms!  "This judge abused his discretion," they claimed.  Wrong - the judge had no choice.  The legislature, in Cal. Family Code §1101(h) mandated the judge to award all of the lottery earnings to Thomas.  Those who opposed his ruling should complain about the legislature, not the judiciary. And, by the way, feminists, that law was passed to protect wives from fraudulent actions by husbands - you can't have it both ways.
I support the concept of the death penalty.  There are some crimes are so bad, the criminals who commit them have severed their ties with society, and revoked their right to remain in our society.  However, the present administration of the death penalty is so perverse, it should be abolished:  A black man who kills a white woman is twelve times more likely to end up on death row than a white man who kills a black woman.  We call that justice?  Intolerable.
If you don't recognize that money buys justice, you should take your blinders off.  The evidence in the murders of Ron Goldman, Nicole Simpson and JonBenet Ramsey overwhelmingly point to O.J. Simpson and Patsy Ramsey as the perpetrators of the respective killings.  Yet those suspects have been able to drive a Mack truck through the legal system, because they have the money to do so.  There can hardly be a doubt that a poor black man from south-central would have been forced by his P.D. to plea guilty to either crime, regardless of the exculpatory evidence.  Is there a solution to this?  No, there isn't.  Our system is far from perfect, but it's the best thing going.
Hate Crimes.  The concept of punishing someone more severely for committing a "hate crime" as opposed to committing a "regular crime" is a stupid idea and needs to be repealed. It treats minorities differently, and perpetrates the segregation of minorities from society.

I. Blind Nationalism

Many Americans think that the United States is the best.  That we have the best technology and the freest press.  Wake up!  Hong Kong, Japan, and most of western Europe have more advanced consumer electronics than we do.  Their cell phones and TV's are at least a year ahead of ours.  And we will never have the incredible public transportation system that they do (let's talk about BART, which runs from Daly City to Fremont, completely skipping three major international airports).  As for a free press, our news media treats our government with kid gloves - heaven forbid they would be critical of the government and do an expose on some of the waste and cover-ups that take place.  The foreign press, specifically in Hong Kong and the U.K., is much more adept at uncovering corruption in both their government and ours ... but we will never hear about it, because our media doesn't want to upset our government officials. If you think America is #1, take a trip overseas to the U.K. or Hong Kong, and you'll find that we have an undeservingly big ego.

J. The Boy Who Cried Wolf

Remember the story of the boy who cried wolf?  He wanted attention, so while he was guarding sheep he cried "wolf!" to get the adults to come running.  Then one time, a real wolf came, and he cried, and no one rushed to help.  There have been two instances of "crying wolf" locally in early 2000 which really ticked me off.  In the first case, a gay Morgan Hill man claimed he was the victim of a hate crime in order to cover up an affair he had with another man, so that his boyfriend wouldn't find out.  Now, when someone really is the victim of a hate crime, people will be hesitant to believe the victim.
Not long after that event, the evening news carried a story about two elderly Mexicans who traveled on a Greyhound bus from Mexico to spend their 34th anniversary in San Francisco. They had dreamed about it for years, and their 5 children scrimped and saved $3,000 for the journey.  As soon as they got here, their suitcase, with all the money, was stolen. And there was the couple on TV, crying about how their children had sacrificed so much, and how they were looking forward to spending their honeymoon in The City.  The police department set up a fund to help the couple.  Marriotts donated the Presidential Suite of their nice Oakland hotel to the couple, and lots of community organizations were pitching in to make sure the couple's anniversary trip was a success, and that they would home happy.  Two days later, the police announced the entire story was a hoax.  Now, the next time this happens, and it's NOT a hoax, people won't give money or support because they will say "last time I did this, it was a hoax, I'm not going to get burnt again."  Idiots.

K. Why I Don't Care About Elian Gonzalez

Much of the following was written before Elian was rescued from his Miami kidnappers and reunited with his father on April 22, 2000:
For months in early 2000, the headlines carried the latest updates about Elian Gonzalez. Millions of dollars were spent trying to figure out what to do with the kid. Well, I'm fed up with it. I don't care about Elian Gonzalez, and I think he should have been shipped back to Cuba the day he was released from the hospital.  If I were Janet Reno, I would have sent the S.W.A.T. team into into that house the day after he got there, get kid, put him and his daddy on the first boat to Cuba, and anyone who wants to protest that can go with them.
   Our Immigration Policy is Absurd
With one exception, the United States policy on immigration is that if a non-citizen comes to this country illegally, they will be deported without due process, and without regard to what may be in their best interests.
The one exception is Cuba. Because of our country's illogical hatred for Fidel Castro, we encourage Cubans to risk their lives to try to make it across the water to America, just to make Fidel mad. Their reward, if they successfully complete their journey, is the right to stay here.  Elian Gonzalez does not meet this exception because he was rescued at sea, and therefore under US immigration policy should have been returned to Cuba immediately.
Of course, there are countries other than Cuba which have communist dictators, such as Vietnam and China, but illegal immigrants from those countries are sent back without any due process. The difference between our treatment of Cubans and illegal immigrants from other countries reflects our racist and hypocritical immigration policy.
We have based our entire foreign policy in this hemisphere on one thing -- eliminating Castro. We tried to assassinate him. We sent "troops" to invade at the Bay of Pigs. We prevented medicine and food from being shipped to Cuba. We almost blew up the world over Cuba and Castro. And we've stayed that way for forty years. Last year, we fined an American citizen $10,000 because he went down to Cuba to tune pianos! It's illegal in this "free" country to travel there. We've been driven crazy because we can't get rid of Fidel Castro.
American propaganda tries our best to make Cuba look bad, but it is difficult to do so. Cuba simply is not a bad place to live: The schools are excellent, and their literacy rate is 100%, something few other countries can claim. Health care is free, and their infant mortality rate is lower than that of America.
The U.S. immigration policy should be no different for Cubans than for Haitians, Chinese, Mexicans or Europeans.  Anything short of consistency is racist and hypocritical.
One of the reasons our immigration policy towards Cuba is so screwed up is the Cuban community in Miami.  They left Cuba in the 1960's to escape Castro and come to a better place. They have a lot of money (that's how they could afford to get out of Cuba), and they have bought a lot of political influence.  But now they're breaking our laws, waiving their little Cuban flags, and criticizing the US government for trying to implement our immigration policy. Folks, if you don't like it here, no one is forcing you to stay. Maybe Canada or Mexico will put up with this nonsense. Or heck, go back to Cuba. But if you're going to stay here, you're going to follow our laws, or work with the system to change the laws.
   Why Elian Isn't Special
Americans find it difficult to enforce our immigration policy against a cute little white boy. They want to rescue him from evil Cuba, and call him their own. They treat him like a celebrity while the Attorney General, the President, Congressmen, federal court judges, talking heads and presidential candidates publicly pondered for months if the boy should be returned to his father in Cuba.
But the press doesn't give us the full story. Maybe with the full story we could have made up our minds much sooner as to what the fate would be for this cute little white boy. Let's examine some of those missing facts:
Elian's father was awarded legal custody of the child, who was conceived after the father and Elian's mother divorced. Elian's mother didn't like the custody decision, so she kidnapped Elian, and died doing so. She abused him, and place his life in unconscionable danger of death by putting him and eleven other people on a boat that could only hold six.  The mother's boyfriend was the owner of the boat, and charged people hundreds of dollars to ride on that death trap.
Elian's "family" in Florida has milked the press and the government for months to demand due process. First of all, illegal immigrants do not and should not have due process rights. But we gave them to Elian anyhow, because he's cute, and lest we forget, white. Elian's family said that they would rely on the judiciary to vindicate what they thought was Elian's right to stay in America. But that judge said Elian had to be sent back. While Elian's family grasped for another straw, they refused to follow standard U.S. immigration policy. The straw they finally selected was to argue that sending Elian back wasn't in his best interests, and that a family court should decide Elian's fate.
The "best interest of the child" test is one which is used in custody battles between two persons with legal custody, such as when parents of a child divorce. In Elian's case, of course, only one person has legal custody: His father. Therefore, the "best interests" test is not applicable. Additionally, Elian is nothing more than a routine immigration case - something family courts have no power to hear. But "the best interest of the child" is a phrase that sounds so good when it's said on national television, and something the public can quickly rally behind and demand for our friend, Elian.  Fortunately America is growing weary of Elian, and the PR campaign isn't working.
Even if the "best interests" test was the proper legal standard, it's doubtful that Elian's relatives in Miami would satisfy the test. First, they are hardly what most of us would consider "relatives." He lived with a "great-uncle" and a "second cousin." In our country, no "relative" replaces the parent. A brother, cousin or "great-uncle" who holds a child against the will of the parent is committing a major crime.
Second, their criminal history alone is grounds for denying custody. Elian's uncles each have two DUI's. Two of Elian's cousins, who are frequently at the Miami home where Elian is hold up, have multiple felony arrests, including assault on a tourist, robbery, burglary, carrying a concealed weapon, failure to pay child support, grand theft, and petty larceny. That's in Elian's best interest?
And his "surrogate mother," Mariselysis, has emotional problems that repeatedly cause her to be hospitalized. She also displays a complete lack of concern for Elian's emotional well being by allowing him to be subjected to the media, and watch his own fate unfold on television.
While the debate about Elian's future raged on, hundreds of black and Asian immigrants were returned to their equally if not more oppressive communist countries to face certain persecution. Hypocrisy breeds racism, and racism breeds hypocrisy.
   The Gun Wasn't Big Enough
I completely support Janet Reno's much delayed decision to use force to rescue Elian.  Some people said that Janet used too much force - I say she didn't use enough.  If I had a six year old child, and he was being held against my will for five months, I can guarantee you that I would be coming at his kidnappers with a hell of a lot more firepower than a puny gun and a woman carrying a blanket.  And I sure as hell wouldn't be negotiating.  You do not make a "deal" with the kidnappers of your child.  Especially not one as crazy as Mari-lazy-ass.  When someone illegally holds a child who is not theirs, there is no "deal."  Maybe these Cubans didn't understand the rules we play by here in the States:  In America, when a parent asks for his child to be returned, no matter how nice the kidnappers were to the child, the child must be returned to the parents.  The child's desires about custody are absolutely irrelevant - 6 year old children do not call the shots in America - parents do (if this is confusing to you, consider your 6 year old's desire to put a knife in the electrical outlet, and whether the child's desires should be entertained).


A. Tipping

Some people tip the same percentage, regardless of the quality of service received.  I believe this ignores the origin and definition of a gratuity, which is to show appreciation for quality service.  I tip based on service, and when the service sucks, so does my tip.  If you receive a low tip from me, it's not because I'm cheap, it's because you didn't give me good service.  If you disagree with my tipping philosophy, then you are welcome to refuse my tip, and I'll give my business to someone else.
In the United Kingdom and in Hong Kong, restaurants automatically add a 10-12% "suggested optional service charge" (tip) to the check.  While this saves me having to calculate the tip, it's nearly impossible not leave an amount other than what they have specified, for example if the service was particularly horrible (as it often is in the U.K.).  I find that this system discourages the staff from being courteous, because they will get the same amount of money regardless of how they treat the customers. Unlike in America, there is no true economic incentive for the staff to treat the customers well (and usually, they don't).

B. Customer Service

Many business establishments operate under the assumption that they are doing me a favor by providing me with goods and services, in exchange for my money.  Their employees and policies are ignorant of the possibility that I may have a choice when it comes to deciding which establishment to patronize.  Accordingly, their presentation customer service is arrogant and impolite, and the product or service they deliver is substandard and overvalued.  These business owners then wonder why it is that they are unable to attract and retain customers, and why their company is in constant economic despair.  They need to be reminded of a basic rule of capitalism:  They are not doing the consumer a favor by offering their services.  The consumer is doing them a favor by giving them the opportunity to serve the customer.  The following is a list of companies with which I have extremely bad experiences, often due to poor customer service.  This list started as a "black list" of companies with which I refuse to do business.

Avis Rent-A-Car at the San Francisco International Airport, and employees John Lawrence and Kathy Black, for the extreme acts of racial discrimination they perpetrated (see Aguilar v. Avis Rent A Car System, Inc, 21 Cal.4th 121 (1999)).
Bank of The West: They owe me $5, and an apology.
Best Buy: They sold me a defective eMachine computer, and then balked at a 100% refund when I returned it the same day.
Blockbuster Video on Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley, CA:  They charge people to park in their parking lot, and don't respond to customer letters.
Econopage:  Owed me $200 when they closed their doors.
FirstUSA's Southwest Airlines Visa:  Worst customer service of any credit card company I have ever dealt with, possibly violating the Consumer Credit Protection Act Regulations.
H.J. Meyers & Company and telemarketer Kieran Michael Duffy:  Abusive telemarketing practices.  They apologized after I complained to several regulatory agencies.
Hollywood Video at El Paseo de Saratoga:  This company has profusely apologized for the abusive and nearly discriminatory treatment I received at this store from the former store manager.
McWhorters on Hamilton Avenue, San Jose, CA:  Extremely poor customer service.
Men's Wearhouse on Stevens Creek Blvd, San Jose, CA:  Buying a $600 suit should not feel as disgusting as buying a used car, and I didn't appreciate hearing the racial slurs from the employees.
Netcom (now Earthlink):  Customer service and accounting departments are horrible.
PageMart:  Customer service is horrible.
PageNet:  Customer service is horrible.
Payless Car Rental in Los Angeles (LAX):  Fraudulent business practices, and poorly trained customer service staff.  After complaining, they credited me for the amount I was overcharged.  If you are looking to rent a car, I strongly discourage using Payless.
Phoenix Network:  Poor customer service.
Regional Parking Corporation:  Fraudulent business practices.
San Jose Airport Parking Control:  These idiots insisted that new cars come with license plates attached to them, and that new car dealerships issue license plates.  Of course, these flunky rent-a-cops have probably never made enough money to buy a new car, so they didn't know that it's the DMV that issues license plates, not new car dealerships.  Needless to say, I got this ticket thrown out.

C. Renting An Apartment

For a year-and-a-half during law school, I worked at a legal aid office advising tenants of, among other things, their housing rights.  Some of my clients were treated unlawfully and extremely unfairly by their landlord, such as when a landlord discriminated against a tenant because of race, or didn't keep the apartment up to minimum habitability requirements.  We advocated on behalf of those clients, and took some of those landlords to court.  However, some if not most of our tenants were treated lawfully, but their eyes, unfairly.  "It's not fair that the landlord can evict me with just 30 days notice after I've lived here for 5 years."  "It's not fair that she can raise my rent that much in one year."  "It's not fair that my landlord can kick me out - I'm on subsidized housing!"  "I don't pay much in rent, but this place is in bad condition - it's not fair." "The rules my landlord has are ridiculous!"
I could appreciate my clients despair, but I had a hard time sympathizing with them.  They have made a choice to live in the most expensive housing market in the country, and to rent rather than buy a home, and therefore sacrifice the legal securities that come with owning a home.  The fact that they can't afford a home here doesn't make my heart bleed:  There are plenty of places that I can't afford a home, so I don't live there.  I live where I can afford a home. Moral of the story:  If you don't like living under the rule of a landlord, buy a house.

D. Efficiency

Making people wind through queuing lines, such as when you go to an amusement park and are in line for a ride, makes no sense when no one else is in the line.  Organizers should use ropes which can be moved to re-shape the queue so that people do not have to wind their way through permanent barriers to reach their destination.

E. Paying For Purchases

A few years ago, my wallet was stolen from a gym locker, and the thief charged over $3,000 on my credit cards in the hour it took me to discover the theft and call the credit card companies to cancel my cards.  While I wasn't liable for any of the charged amount, it was an inconvenience to deal with the credit card companies in resolving the situation.  Had the cashier compared the signature on the back of my card to the thief's signature, she would have discovered they did not match at all.  But even if she had, the thief could have easily forged my signature - it was right there on the credit card!
As a result of this experience, I have written "SEE ID" on the signature line of my credit card.  I've found that this encourages store clerks to ask for my driver's license, which I am more than happy to let them see so that they can verify that I am the cardholder.  I've never had a problem with this... except in China and London.  In China, a clerk made me sign my name "See Id" on the credit card slip, despite my attempts to explain who or what "See Id" was.  In London, a clerk nearly refused to accept my card (but did, even though I offered to pay cash, because she had already run the card through the machine).  I tried my best to explain why I have "See ID" on my card, but she kept pointing to the words "Card Not Valid Unless Signed."  *sigh*
I do not understand companies who allow their cashiers to be unable to change a $20 bill.  Not infrequently I have gone to a restaurant or store and handed the cashier a $20, and they tell me they can't change a $20.  The cashier should be equipped with enough change to handle the day's customers, and if they are not, someone has failed to perform their job.  Along these same lines, one of my pet peeves is businesses who will not accept a charge card as payment for an amount under a certain limit.  This violates the merchant's contract with their bank, and is very inconvenient for people like me who, for the sake of convenience, charge everything.  I report these merchants to Visa, in turn reprimands the merchant or cancels their contract.

F. It's Time To Modernize Some Business Models

The recording industry is up in arms.  People are able to exchange digital music (MP3s) on the internet, for free.  Walkman-type listening devices, whose prices are falling daily, will soon replace portable tape players and CD players as the listening device of choice.  People will no longer buy CD’s in droves, and that scares the crap out of the recording industry, because it jeopardizes the artificially high profits that the industry receives on the sale of CD’s.  The recording industry has threatened legal action against distributors of MP3s.  Whether they will follow through on their threats or not, and even pursue legal action against individuals who share and listen to MP3s or not remains to be seen.  But rest assured:  MP3s are here to stay, and even if Napster is shut down, the recording industry will never again be the same.
The only answer to this problem is for the recording industry to find a new business model.  CD’s will not disappear over night, just as cassette tapes did not disappear when CD’s were introduced.   But unless the recording industry develops a business model which includes an effective way to harness the trade of MP3s and use it to their advantage, they are going to be up a creek without a paddle.
The recording industry is not alone.  In just a few years, you will access the internet by wireless interface, and your telephone will plug into your computer.  Your voice will be carried by same technology that allows you to see this text (internet protocol).  Once that happens, the phone companies, as we know them today, are out of business.  Phone companies, like the recording industry, is in desperate need of a business model which allows them to profit from the internet.  And since right now, very few companies are profiting from the internet, that business model will have to be novel.
One of America’s oldest brick-n-mortar establishments is also in danger.  Car dealerships are fighting like mad to get states to pass laws which would restrict our ability to purchase cars on the internet from anyone other than a brick-n-mortar car dealership.  The technology and business interest is present for car dealerships to sell customized cars directly to you, cutting the price by as much as 20% by eliminating dealer profits and costs.


Why aren't there any female game show hosts on TV?  I have never seen a game show, including ones from the 70's and 80's, with a female host, other than shows from Great Britain.
There is a new study that shows joining an online community of more than 50 million people globally is causing increasing loneliness and depression. Doesn't that seem odd?
HTML, the language in which web pages are authored, is a cross-platform publishing medium. A web page should look and function the same regardless of the browser or platform which you use. Web page authors who include "Best viewed by [browser name]" on their web page do not understand HTML or the concept of cross-platform publishing.

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