December 28, 2007


(For your convenience, I've decided to fill this with Wikipedia links.)

Don't get me wrong, I like Costco. There are lots of things to like about it. Them. Itthem.

I like that I can go there and basically be fed an entire meal of free samples.
I like 30-packs of dress shirts and obscenely large tubs of mayonnaise. I like that I can buy them, and get new tires in the same store.
I like their assortment of cheeses.
I like that, for the most part, the people who work there know how to help you.
I like their lower drug prices, since I don't have insurance.

The whole buy-in-bulk philosophy is funny to me. Generally, you don't need to shop at Costco unless you have a huge family or run a cafe or something. You can buy very large sacks of rice there. I had a roommate last year who had a membership. He would go there and get vast amounts of food, and he was a single guy. He was always willing to share, but he bought things that no one else in the house really wanted. I remember he bought a very large tub of pierogies. Pierogies are always a bit of a disappointment to me, they look delicious but turn out to be subpar. Anyway, we didn't help him with them and I think they all went bad. He would also come home with packages of 36 apples, large quantities of eggs, and very large milk jugs, none of which did we assist him in consuming. So a lot of his groceries went bad. If you're in charge of feeding yourself, don't buy large quantities of things that go bad.

I do not like being an outsider. Some time ago, I got my mother a membership there, and put the second card in my dad's name. For the most part, I was free to come and go with their membership card, and no one asked questions. All the while, I knew I was getting away with something. Then one day it all fell apart. They carded me, and I failed to prove I was Sharon Gamble. Still, they were gracious enough to let me make my purchases and let me go. A guy in a suit confiscated my dad's card and told me he could get it back next time he came in. Presumably, they drew a frowny face on it and pinned it to a naughty customer bulletin board somewhere.

I still have to go to the pharmacy there, and ever since they took away my dad's card it feels like I'm trying to get into a club I'm not good enough for. They position their guards (fifty year-old woman guards) at the door, and make you show your card. One time I went to visit their cell phone counter, and they sent a babysitter with me to make sure I didn't ogle their merchandise without permission. She thought it was ridiculous, too. I don't like the idea of having bouncers at retail places. Then again, if I was an actual card-entitled member, I'd probably like that very much. Gotta keep out the sample-grabbing riffraff. Nothing makes me feel more important than entitlement.

December 20, 2007

Jim Learns About the Business World

I got fired on Wednesday.

I was going to write a long rant about this, possibly saying some negative things about my employer, but the simple truth is that I was let go six days before Christmas, just over a week away from wrapping another issue of our publication. I got a note yesterday that said my position was no longer needed. The publication I worked for is going to operate with four salespeople, an owner, and no editor. How they're going to accomplish that isn't up to me. The economy in Michigan is bad, particularly affecting people who advertise with them. The cynic would say, I lost my job because other people weren't able to do theirs, that is, sell ads. Maybe. But I'm really not bitter about this. I knew I wouldn't stay there forever.

This opens other doors for me. I'll get another job, a better one, and I'll be okay. Now, when people ask what I do for a living, I can go back to saying I'm just a pizza man. And for now, that's okay with me.

Besides, I get to sleep in now.

December 19, 2007

This is why we need to be smarter about international aid:

Link: Uganda Leader to Get Second Jet and Zimbabwe is Still Messed Up.

You can collect as much for UNICEF as you want.
You can send as many checks to the Red Cross as you want.
You can buy as many (Red) Campaign shirts and jeans as you want.
You can join as many Save Darfur facebook groups as you want.
You can write as many email-bombs to senators as you want.
You can take as many save-the-orphans "Mission trips" as you want.

But until there is accountability in Africa's leadership and change in their infrastructure, their problems aren't going away.

December 16, 2007


It is more fun to wonder about things than to be right. That's one of the reasons I call this "Naive Jim:" It absolves me from any responsibility to be right. (In a similar way, taking on a journalistic tone of writing as opposed to a poetic or prosaic tone absolves me from the responsibility of being deep. It's much easier to not try to be deep.) I pretty much have free reign to espouse any opinion or idea, no matter how ridiculous, because I readily admit to my own naivety. You know exactly what you're getting: One dude, just kinda wondering stuff. No one can come down on me because, hey, I'm just a naive guy. If you admit from the start that you're an ignoramus, things aren't so bad. You'll notice in real life, if you're proven wrong about something, saying, "I guess you're right," is the best way to diffuse the argument, and it can really frustrate someone looking for an argument if you give it up right away. At least it would do that for me.

For example, the other day during lunch a co-worker was doing a crossword puzzle. She needed to know how to spell Tae, as in Tae Kwon Do. I asserted that it was T-A-E, and I was right. Everyone else at the table flatly insisted it was T-A-I. I reminded them that I was the editor, and quickly broke out a dictionary - okay, not a dictionary, it was Wikipedia on a computer - and saw that it was, in fact, Tae. Wikipedia is, of course, a 100% reliable source. Very proud of my rightness, I shared my finding with everyone there. They were not impressed, and their accolades toward me were minimal at best. I don't know what I expected. I am seldom provably right in arguments. Odds are, if you argue with me about pretty much anything, you're going to win. I have lost a lot of arguments, and I can tell you that the most satisfaction comes not from the few that I have won, but the few that I have conceded easily. Because when we argue, being right is inevitably a pretty big letdown. At least it is to me. You reach an equilibrium, and the disagreement is usually forgotten almost immediately. How many times have you brought up an old, insignificant argument to emphasize your personal value? Probably not very often. "Dude, remember that one time you told me that Taco Bell would still be open and I told you I was pretty sure it wasn't and then we drove there and it was closed and I was right?" Only once have I used past argument-triumph to emphasize my coolness, and that was in this paragraph. And my coolness is well-established away from this victory.

For Amy, I'm sorry that it took me 11 days to come up with this. I've been meaning not to neglect the old blog. But I can only come up with stuff as truly inspired. You don't want perfunctory, uninspired blogging now, do you? I have a lot of ideas, religious ones, that I'm kicking around, and you'll probably see them soon. Turns out I'm a supralapsarianist.

December 5, 2007

The Golden Compass Boycott

The notice showed up in my facebook inbox a few days ago. A friend had invited me to join the group “Do NOT Support The Golden Compass.” I noticed that several of my friends had already joined. Now, I am very particular about the groups I join on facebook. I have to be absolutely sold on a particular ideology before I align myself with it (See: Pudding is Awesome, It’s Funny When Old Ladies Swear, Backpacks on Wheels are NOT COOL, etc.) Now, I had no intention of seeing the movie, more out of disinterest than religious zeal. I had seen the previews and the posters, and it appeared to me to be another big-budget ($180 million) rehash of a children’s novel (one I’ve never read), a convenient way for a movie studio to cash in at Christmas time.

So I decided not to join. But I did look into why people were upset about it.

Turns out, The Golden Compass is the first book of religious skeptic Philip Pullman’s trilogy His Dark Materials. (If the compass is, in fact, golden, Mr. Pullman, is it not shiny? How, then, can it also be dark? What do you think of that? Unless it’s tarnished gold. Or “dark” as in evil. Hmm. Touche, Mr. Pullman.) From what I’ve read, the book portrays religion and clergy as evil or in the very least, nasty, and his idea of the afterlife doesn’t line up with Christianity’s vision of heaven. In the final book, so I hear, the god-figure is unveiled as a fraud, and gets killed by children. But, like I said, I haven’t read any of these so I don’t know a whole lot about it.

So, there you see, why some people are getting all hot-and-bothered by yet another controversial kids book/movie with unchristian religious themes. Their problem is with the soft sell: Kids will watch the movies, which may or may not be watered down and “safe” versions of the books. Then, they’ll want to read the books and will hate the church and the whole generation will go to crap and all the kids will become atheists. After all, children are fragile little things, always teetering right on the edge of pursuing devil-worship. And, as we all know, ever since Harry Potter came out, there’s been an epidemic of pre-teen sorcery. I guess we’ll have to start over with the next batch of Sunday-schoolers.

Really, that’s what it amounts to: Allowing kids to see this movie will doom an entire generation to the fires of Hades. Better to not let them see it at all than to subject them to it and have to talk to them about it. Sometimes we Christians aren’t big fans of dialog. Are we afraid? Is that what it is? Since when did a movie threaten our eternal securities? Since when did we not like conversation, and questions, and doubt, anyway? I thought God was bigger than that stuff. I thought God was bigger than my doubts (and the boogeyman, Godzilla, or the Monsters on TV), that He was bigger than some story by an atheist. This is just one more thing to tell kids not to touch, and by doing so to make them curious about it.

In the last few days, the anti-Golden Compass movement has gotten ample press. (See: What, exactly, is the message we want to send with a boycott? That we, as Christians, have the buying power to squash movies we disagree with? Or is it that we have an endless supply of things to get uptight about? Or is it that we're afraid?

December 4, 2007

Special: Hip-Hop Videos of the 90s, Volume 1

Starting today, continuing periodically, and ending whenever I run out of gas, I'll be sharing something I've held private for a very long time: My love for 1990s hip-hop videos.

Most people don't know this, but Flavor Flav was a sex symbol and fashion icon long before The Surreal Life and Flavor of Love. His previous career as a rapper is, of course, dwarfed by his modern achievements on VH1's reality repertoire, but he has nevertheless been extremely influential as the musical genius flanking Chuck D in Public Enemy. Flav and D, along with Terminator and Richard "Professor Griff" Griffin, assembled a supergroup which, James Lipton would agree, by comparison reduces the collective works of Bach, Beethoven, and Mozart to childish rubber-band plunkings.

Today I present you with something not aptly described by "masterpiece," as it is so much more, Public Enemy's "Give it Up."

The things I love about this video:
-The earth shattering special effects, and the seemless California-Raisin-ish claymation.
-Pretty much everything Flavor Flav does, especially wearing a rain-coat in the sunshine.
-The brief parodies of gangsta videos and suburban rap
-The ability of the ever-watchful benevolent Public Enemy to rescue a child from an evil dude in a mask, and the positive message of the kid rejecting a 40 of Malt Liquor. Then, the evil dudes turn into books.
-Claymation Bill Clinton, dollar signs in his eyes, physically impeached by Public Enemy via yanking from the lid of the US Capitol Building.
-Rappers playing chess in the park
-The complete absence of rap vide-hos.