little prick

I was leaving the supermarket tonight, early, because they were about to have a power outage.

There was a teenaged kid working the door to keep people from entering, and we exchanged good nights.

There were two other young guys: one was another employee on a smoke break, and the other was a miscellaneous local kid in a hoodie and shorts. Maybe another employee, maybe note. This kid was telling jokes.

As I passed he said “Why are black people so tall? Because they’re Negroes.” I thought, well, that’s some dumb fifth grade humor.

Then, as I was walking to my car he said “How do you keep black guys out of your back yard? Hang one in the front.”

The door kid looked uncomfortable. “Hey, not when the store is open, okay.”

Hoodie Joker Kid said something I couldn’t hear. Door kid said again “Whatever when the store is closed, just you can’t do that stuff when we’re open, okay.”

Hoodie Joker says “You’re closed in five minutes. Anyway no one cares.”

I said “I care.”

The kids looked at me. Door kid was paralyzed. Smoke break kid just smoked. Hoodie said “Uh… sorry sir” in a tone that indicated a great lack of sorrow.

“Keep that shit inside of your house, dude.” I drove away.

I feel like I should have got up in the kid’s face and been loud, but I don’t know. I guess I communicated a combination of disapproval and advice. Maybe I just wanted to be loud and threatening because I was angry, and it would have been dumb.

I wonder if he’ll ever figure out that there’s a world outside Newport Beach where lynching jokes have consequences.

It put a shiver down my spine.

Please panic now about everything and do as we say

It starts:

U.S. officials believe Canadian arrests over the weekend and three recent domestic incidents in the United States are evidence the U.S. will soon be hit again by a terrorist attack. Privately, they say, they’d be surprised if it didn’t come by the end of the year, reports CBS News correspondent Jim Stewart in a CBS News exclusive.

Then they go on to say that terrorists are committing robberies in order to finance terror attacks, and list a couple of incidents in which various bad guys had what seemed to be political terrorism objectives.

The fun is all in the last sentence, though:

The next attack here, officials predict, will bear no resemblance to Sept. 11. The casualty toll will not be that high, the target probably not that big. We may not even recognize it for what it is at first, they say. But it’s coming — of that they seem certain.

Okay. So, they’re now reserving the option of pulling out any Very Bad Day that might have some tenuous connection to Islamic extremists and calling it a terrorist incident. If some career criminals who got Muslim names in prison rob a store in a mall and there’s a big ugly shootout, or if some mentally unstable loser with a connection to Islam runs over a lot of people on a sidewalk, or if any number of medium-spectacular crimes occur that they can tie to “terror” in any way, it will be more evidence that we should be afraid and that we should give up yet more liberty.

And the news calls this an “exclusive” and runs it unchallenged. Bleah!

Marketing, Part III: Run over by “Cars”

The promoters of the movie Cars have rented the entire automotive journalism establishment for a month. It’s amazing. Every car magazine, tv show, web site, blog-where-people-are-paid, everything is simultaneously doing “stories” relating to that movie.

I realized things were headed this way in publishing some time in the 1980s when I walked by the big newsstand on Cahuenga in Hollywood and saw the same actress’s face literally 15 in a row, 15 different magazines, all the same month, promoting the same star of the same movie.

In artillery, a “time on target” is a technique in which different batteries at different locations and distances from a target time each of their firings so that all of the shells arrive in the same place at the same time, multiplying their effect with terrifying simultaneity from all directions.

The marketers have us bracketed and they are firing for effect. Help!