Way back in Vent #602, I listed several (okay, four) particularly-annoying aspects of contemporary life, and the remedies I recommended to address them. I need hardly point out that none of said remedies have been implemented, and while it's disheartening to see superior advice go unnoticed, the guy who goes 0 for 4 in the first game of the season still has 161 games left to improve his average. Assuming no one attempts to send me down to the minors, therefore, I'm trying a few more.

1. While I'm generally happy with where I live, in terms of the three major factors of real estate — in case you've forgotten, they're "location, location and location," pretty much in that order — the commute home has its exasperating aspects, the worst of which is the absolutely astonishing number of people who feel free to run the occasional red light. In the past, I've called for enforcement via camera, but with evidence mounting that the cameras don't work so well, and the presence of world-class bozos seeming to dominate the vendors, this is not the solution I'm looking for. What I want: Penalties that will actually discourage this sort of thing. Oklahoma City assesses the same maximum fine — $307 — for almost all traffic-related offenses that don't involve the Demon Rum. I suggest something with a little more psychological impact: say, requiring the perp to stand in the middle of the intersection for the next two hours while the city impounds his vehicle.

2. Where I work, about half our sales, maybe a little more, are charged to credit and/or debit cards. Since we have a Web storefront, we never see the actual plastic, which is no particular problem for the 97 percent of our customers whose cards go through every time. That leaves, of course, three percent who generate a whole lot of extra work, since they have to be notified, and we don't really have the time to work up a proper autoresponder for this — not that it matters, since roughly half of those schmucks are repeat offenders who are quite immune to notifications. Eventually they cough up the dough, else we'd ban them from the premises, but as a rule, approximately none of them show the slightest bit of remorse. What I want: The Congress has shown itself willing to intrude itself into credit-card contracts, and card issuers know what kind of responses they're sending out to authorization requests. A pattern of repeated declines, I think, should be cause for immediate cancellation of an account, and the next brick-and-mortar merchant faced with one of these characters should be able to collect a bounty for confiscating the card, exactly the way they can for cards reported stolen. Sooner or later, this will drive the offender's FICO score into a hole. I acknowledge that this is the very definition of "passive-aggressive," but I don't have a problem with that.

3. Earlier this year, Comedy Central's Daily Show ran an inspired bit about the Race Card being maxed out, including a brief segment in which Maxine Waters is complaining on Al Sharpton's radio show. My first thought, of course, was: "Al Sharpton has a radio show?" Not that there's anything wrong with that, of course; all manner of hucksters of any and all political persuasions clutter up both AM and FM bands. (Shortwave too, I suppose.) Still, this is basically the same problem as #2, supra: too many people trying to turn something temporarily, perhaps even permanently, worthless into the equivalent of currency. Legislation in this case, however, is never the answer: you don't piss on the First Amendment just because you don't like the way someone's using it. What I want: Larry Wilmore's brandishing of a prop Race Card drew lots of laughs from the Daily Show audience. I propose that the brandishing of a "real" race card, by Sharpton or Jesse Jackson or for that matter any actual white supremacists you can find, be met with similar guffaws. It's the only way we'll ever get rid of the damned thing.

If you think this isn't really a proper Wish List, well, there's always this one.

The Vent

  9 September 2010

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