Happy Juneteenth! Let’s form a lynch mob.

What. The. Fuck. Is. Wrong. With. People.

A few years ago in my hometown, a guy ran his car into a little girl, killing her. I assume it was an accident. Some people nearby rushed over immediately. So they could beat up the driver.

One of my coworkers, while riding his bike to work, was struck by a car making an illegal turn. While he lay on the ground, stunned and bleeding, other bicyclists—obviously concerned—interrupted their own commute. So they could yell at the driver. It took a while for anyone to actually help my coworker.

This week in Austin, Texas, at a celebration commemorating the end of slavery, according the Associate Press, “A crowd attacked and killed a passenger in a vehicle that had struck and injured a child.” The murdered passenger became involved when he tried to stop the mob from killing the driver. The struck child’s injuries, it should probably be mentioned, were not life-threatening.

I actually can’t comment anymore on this without becoming infuriated. So I won’t—other than to point out the irony: in cases like these, it appears the person most concerned with the well-being of the victim is the one who actually injured them in the first place. Everyone else seems preoccupied with exacting revenge for an act which—however careless and stupid—was clearly unintended.

Poor me.

I have 75 cents: a quarter, four dimes, two nickels, and some pennies, but they don’t count. I don’t just have 75 cents. Seventy-five cents is all I have.

I don’t get paid for another six days. I want a cup of coffee. I’ll want one tomorrow too, but right now, I want one today. I decide to borrow the dollar that’s been resting in an empty bottle on top of the fridge for a couple months. I’ll pay my roommates back later.

I turn the bottle upside-down; the neck is too narrow. The bill is rolled up, but won’t slide down far enough for me to grab with my stubby pinky finger. I dig and slide it around. This is humiliating, even though no one’s around to see. I grab a pen and poke at the dollar. I manage to pin it against the side and drag it down until a corner of it is within reach. I pinch it between finger-nails and pull it out.

I’ve been poor. As a kid, after my parents divorce, I watched nearly every “necessity” of life slip away. The car, the house, toilet paper. My Christmas list to relatives consisted of small appliances—toasters, hair driers, one of those mini-vacuums that are little more than a DustBuster on a stick—or money to help get our phone service turned back on. On more than one occasion our dinner plates contained only a mass of dense, chalky Bisquik biscuits.

All of that is true, though I’m uncomfortable with the bleak picture it presents. Because I never felt destitute. Sure, I couldn’t buy or do everything I wanted, and I was sharply aware of the socioeconomic disparity between me and my classmates, but—biscuit dinners notwithstanding—I never went hungry (well, never more than a day or two). I don’t feel as if I missed out on key adolescent experiences due to lack of funds (though I may have for other reasons). I suppose the credit for that should go to my mother, but instead I’ll claim it for myself, citing my perseverance and indefatigable optimism.

Now, years later and after a period of (credit-card-and-student-loan-induced) upper-lower class living, I find myself again, as they say in France, piss-poor. It doesn’t help that I live in one of the most expensive cities in America.

There are loads of irony piled on top of me here, and I’m painfully aware of it. If not for the hundreds of dollars I owe each month on my thousands of dollars in credit card debt, I’d be (relatively) swimming in cash. Another groin-kicking irony is the fact that, except once out of necessity, I haven’t used a credit card in six months. But the late fees and finance charges add up to overlimit fees, becoming more late fees, under which I suffocate and choke.

But pretty soon I’ll have a real job, and I’ll be rich. Right?

I don’t really only have 75 cents right now. But I started writing this during a time when I did only have 75 cents, so it counts.

It’s a Gas!

Hmm…

In April 1997, there was a “gas out“ conducted nationwide in protest of gas prices.
Gasoline prices dropped 30 cents a gallon overnight.

On May 15th 2007, all myspace members are asked to not go to a gas station in protest of
high gas prices. Gas is now over $3.00 a gallon in most places.

There are 73,000,000+ American members currently on the myspace network, and the
average car takes about 20 to 30 dollars to fill up.

If all myspace members did not go to the pump on the 15th, it would take $2,200,000,000.00 (that’s BILLION) out of the oil companys pockets for just one day, so please do not go to the gas station on May 15th and lets try to put a dent in the Middle Eastern oil industry for at least one day.

If you agree (which I cant see why you wouldnt) repost this bulletin repost it with ‘Don’t pump gas on May 15th’

Rooiiiight. I don’t agree. Let’s see why I wouldn’t:

In April 1997, there was a “gas out“ conducted nationwide in protest of gas prices. Gasoline prices dropped 30 cents a gallon overnight.

OK, first of all: No. The price of gas did not drop 30 cents overnight because of a “gas out” in 1997, nor in any other year. Show me the article reporting this. Google and the world are at your fingertips. For example, the first results page of an easy search for “april 1997 ‘gas out'” contains only sites about how no such event occured and one from Indiana State Representative Vernon Smith who’s encouraging his constituents to take part (complete with false information!).

Come on, people. I know copying and pasting and clicking “Forward” or “Post Bulletin” has tired you out, but before you take your nap, click a little more. As they say in Missouri: “You’re full of crap.”

There are 73,000,000+ American members currently on the myspace network

Yes, the millions of MySpace users (actually 177 as of this writing). There are no doubt (and depressingly) lots of us. There are not, however, that many. Let’s take into account al the fake spam profiles, the bands, the old accounts of people who have created new accounts, the cartoon character profiles, etc. I’m not doubting the power of the MySpace population; I’m only saying there’s no basis for using the number in you “extended network” to start figuring alarming statistics. Plus,

the average car takes about 20 to 30 dollars to fill up.

How many MySpace users are under 16? How many don’t have cars? I suspect I’m not the only one. I also suspect that the “average car” mentioned here, and it’s “20 to 30 dollars” were made up on the spot.

If all myspace members did not go to the pump on the 15th, it would take $2,200,000,000.00 (that’s BILLION) out of the oil companys pockets for just one day, so please do not go to the gas station on May 15th and lets try to put a dent in the Middle Eastern oil industry for at least one day.

Umm, how many of these people, assuming they have a car and pay for their own gas, were actually planning on filling up on Tuesday? Are Tuesdays really hot gasoline days? I haven’t driven in a while; do gas stations only open on Tuesdays now? If you didn’t get gas on Tuesday, am I playing right into Big Oil’s hands by suggesting you would fill up on… Monday? Or, even – God forbid – Wednesday?!

This one doesn’t have my favorite part that I’ve seen in a lot of others: “If you don’t understand the math, don’t worry. MY friend’s dog’s cousin is a MATHMATITIAN at HARVARD at he ran the numbers. It checks out.” Yes, thank god we have the apocryphal Harvard professor to multiply 73 million by $30 for us. Gawrsh, I never wuz no good at werd probems. I would be much more convinced if an imaginary economist gave this scheme the OK.

If you agree (which I cant see why you wouldnt) repost this bulletin repost it with ‘Don’t pump gas on May 15th [July 23, November 1, or whichever other day someone arbitrarily chooses when they decide to dredge this up every few months]’

Every time I see one of these I’m filled with spite and dismay. This particular one came from someone who I didn’t think was stupid. And I still don’t think they’re stupid. That’s where a lot of the dismay comes in.

On the one hand, the way I think, all of my commentary above occurs to me almost immediately as I read one of these. Of course not getting gas for one day makes literally no difference to anyone unless you actually use less gas (of which there is no suggestion), because you’ll just get gas another day. It’s like exhorting everyone to hold off having a bowel movement on a certain day to protest high plumbing costs. The companies know, one way or another, they’re going to get what they want.

Then you add in the fuzzy math (to put it nicely) and the whole thing is just laughable. I mean, even if I couldn’t quite figure out why this made no sense, it doesn’t take much to find someone who knows.

But on the other hand, I’ve probably seen at least ten of these over the last few years, which means people are still believing and circulating them. And that, despite the fact that they’ve certainly seen them before and noticed that they had no effect. I can only assume they assume that it didn’t reach enough people, or there was a conspiracy to prevent its success. I don’t know.

The troubling fact is, not everyone thinks like me. And, the more troubling fact (the one I can’t quite grasp yet) is, that’s OK. I mean, in this case, I’m clearly right. The “gas out” plans are stupid and useless. I think I’m also right to be skeptical of everything you receive as an email forward or MySpace bulletin. But my way of thinking rarely makes me happy (other than the smug satisfaction I derive from being correct). Logic serves me well for logical things, but a lot of seemingly illogical people appear to have a lock on the truly illogical aspects of life, and those are the ones trouble me the most. Sometimes I wish I could just turn off the logic. Turn off the questioning. I haven’t been able to do that. Not yet, anyway.

Anyway, that being said, don’t forward these things. Don’t believe them. Don’t be an idiot.

Update: A little more searching reveals that some, not content with just MySpace, have changed the text for all internet users, yet kept the 73 million number—this time, a gross underestimate! They also arbitrarily changed the fill-up price for the “average car” to $30 to $50—amazingly, the total amount of money did not increase correspondingly. Ahh! People! You never cease to amaze me.

A brief, yet sexy, explanation

My plan was to design an awesome blog before relaunching in a somewhat serious manner. As you may have surmised, this has not yet come to pass. Therefore, I am following the lead of all the coolest Web 2.0 websites who launch, often with crap functionality, and proceed in “beta” stage for years. (Non-geeks: “beta” is a software term for the testing stage preceding an application’s release; currently it’s the most recognizable symbol for self-proclaiming something’s coolness).

At least I have something to show for my absence: my amazingly kickass url (this has the added benefit of ensuring, at least for a year, that no matter how fickle my tastes in bloggin software, you’ll know where to find me online), plus the shiny beta bubble (never mind that the top’s cut off). During this beta stage, I’ll be trying to blog while continuing learning/working on a original redesign plans. Soon, my site will be as beautiful as this one, or this one.

I can’t wait.