Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Tick ... tick ... tick

My time here at TWMBIC is winding down (today's my last day), so I've been taking care of a few last-minute tasks. I did the exit interview this morning, I've gotten the CDs I loaned my boss (mostly Replacements stuff) back and I just sent out what I guess you'd have to call my "farewell" email.

Now, I know what you're thinking: A sappy "Goodbye, everyone!" email from ultra-cool Cap'n Ken? Say it ain't so!!

It ain't so.

I've endured my share of ridiculous "farewell" emails and I still remember the story a friend told me about some VP who left a company-wide voice mail farewell from her cell phone that went something like "As I drive off into the sunset, I'm reflecting on the great times I've had ..."

[gag]

So there would be none of that. But I did want to leave my personal email address for the few people around here I'd not be horrified to hear from again someday.

And here's what I sent:
Hey gang:

This isn't the "I've really enjoyed working with all of you" kind of departure
e-mail; I'm just not that sentimental.

But I wanted to pass along my personal email address for those of you who might
want to have it.

You can find me at xxxxx@xxxxx.com

The highly-advanced and industry-leading XXXX e-mail system will kick you
back a spam blocker message if you send me mail and you're not in my address
book, but just click back on the link and I'll get a notification that you don't
want to labeled as a filthy spammer. Fancy, isn't it?

Bye

P.S. It might be correct for you to assume that your inclusion on the list of
people I'm giving my personal email address to would indicate that perhaps I
did, in fact, enjoy working with you. And since all of your names are in the BCC
field, it's up to your own speculation as to who all I did - and did not -
include. Intriguing, isn't it?

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Where the hell was Debra Lafave when I was in school?

OK, there's an uproar this evening about this 23-year-old female teacher in Florida who was busted having sex with a 14-year old student (once in her SUV while the kid's cousin was driving around town, no less!).

Is it wrong that my reaction is more "way to go, junior!" than "I can't believe a teacher would abuse a child like that!"?

If this was a male teacher seducing a 14-year-old girl, I'd be pretty disgusted. But, as a 14-year-old kid, I'd have been king of the world if I were banging a 5'9", 110lb, blonde-haired, blue-eyed 23-year-old teacher.



from The Smoking Gun

Why America is Dead: Reason #498

Apparently, Americans need to be told that the frothy, sugary, delicious summer drinks at Starbucks can be fattening.
"I think often we have the perception if we're drinking it, it doesn't have to have calories"

Are people really that stupid? Do they not realize that whipped cream and chocolate are fattening?

I suppose they don't.


Monday, June 28, 2004

I don't know why I like the things that I do ...

But I saw this in a catalog that arrived at Cap'n Ken's place today, and I think it's pretty cool:



Yep, it's a Swiss Army knife with a 64-meg memory stick added to the usual setup of knife, file, scissors, pen, screwdriver and LED lite.

There's just something cool about adding the 21st-century "tool" of 64 megs of data storage to everyone's favorite multi-tasker. They call it the Swiss Bit.

Swiss Army also sells a version - the "Sky King" - that removes the dangerous 1-inch knife, ultra-threatening tiny scissors and buff-you-to-death nail file so you can get onto an airplane with it:



Because, of course, I am a terrorist.

Friday, June 25, 2004

It sure feels good

In celebration of my pending return to employment at an actual Internet company, I re-started my subscription to Business 2.0 tonight.

It's always been a great mag (more so before TW bought it), and I was a loyal reader in the go-go days of the Internet bubble. Their 101 Dumbest Moments in Business feature puts the once-great Dubious Achievements issue of Esquire to shame (The original 101 Dumbest Moments in e-Business History from the old TW mag eCompany Now was the perfect capper for the Internet bust).

So I'll be back on board in just 4-6 weeks. But the question I have is - why are they selling subscriptions for 42 cents an issue?

Head scratcher

OK, here's one for the amateur ornithologists in the crowd.

I'm on my way in to work this morning, sitting at a red light (Irwin and Auburn Aves, not that it matters) and I notice this really strange scene over on the sidewalk.

Three birds of the type you often see picking around restaurant patios (not pigeons) were standing around a half-eaten apple. Two of these birds were dusty brown, and one was mostly black. They all appeared to be the same kind of bird, and they were all about the same size.

The black one was furiously picking at the apple as the brown ones just stood there. Every time the black one stood back up with some apple bits, the brown ones would open their mouths like baby birds do in a nest. The black bird would stick his beak into one of their mouths and feed them, then pick at the apple for more.

This went on for the entire time I was sitting at the light. The black one kept working like crazy to feed the brown ones. I didn't see it save any for itself, and the brown ones had no interest in picking their own apple.

So the question is - what up with that?

The best I can figure - applying human behavior - is that the black one is a dude and the brown ones are ladies. Dude wants some avian lovin', and the pick/feed move is akin to buying a lady drinks.

But these ladies appear to be just stringing the dude along. They know he's not getting any (why else would they both take the drinks - I mean apple?) and are happy to act interested for as long as he wants to pick at the apple.

I imagine not long after I left, another - slightly larger - black bird showed up and the brown birds flew off with him, leaving the little black bird with no apple, and no ladies.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

New name for food stamps

The U.S. government is looking for a new name for food stamps now that all of the nation's grocery freeloaders have been switched over to "EBT" cards from the old paper coupons.

Changing the name of the program, the feds say, will help "remove the stigma associated with the coupons". In other words, let's do all we can to make sure the people who make you and me buy them groceries don't have to feel bad about it.

If Cap'n Ken ran the food stamps program, here's how it would work:

- If you want government assistance to buy your groceries, you have to get a certificate of need. We'll come over to your house and make sure you actually need the assistance. Have satellite TV? Sorry. A home phone and a cell phone? Nope. Food assistance should be for people who would otherwise go malnourished. If you've got a spare $30 a month for a cell phone, you don't qualify.

- In urban areas, there would be government-run distribution centers where you go to get your free groceries. The government would give you your pick of basic but nutritious foods, maybe some of that stuff the feds pay farmers to grow but not sell. No Cokes, no candy, no potato chips. In suburban and rural areas, you could shop at regular stores, but you'd be limited to the same basic, nutritious foods.

- In order for stores to be reimbursed for the giveaway groceries, clerks would be required to announce loudly "Customer getting free groceries with your tax dollars" whenever a user of the program checks out. And the EBT cards would be bright neon green and the size of a record album. No acting like you're using your own ATM card when you use it. Stigma? You bet. People should be ashamed to force taxpayers to buy their groceries.

- Every month you would be required to go back to the food-assistance agency to get your EBT card reloaded. You would have to sign an affidavit of ongoing need and you would receive the name and address of a taxpayer. Each month you would have to write a personal thank-you letter to the taxpayer for buying your groceries for you.

OK, so that's the Cap'n Ken plan. Kind of off the topic of renaming food stamps, but I had to throw it out there.

But the question remains ... what should we call Food Stamps now?

I know there's a God ...

... when I see the Salma Hayek dance scene in From Dusk Till Dawn.

And thank you, God, for my TiFaux.

Monday, June 21, 2004

Blog-a-versary

Not being the most sentimental of creatures, I let the one-year anniversary of The Wisdom go unremarked upon (June 10). Until now, that is.

Blogger tells me I've posted 286 items to The Wisdom, which gives me an average of .758 posts per day. I'm not sure if that's a lot or a little. I guess it depends on how much spare time a person has on his hands.

And in the spirit of the blog-a-versary, I've decided to hand out some awards. I believe I shall call them The Wizzies.

• Biggest traffic grabber: Caught in the Crossfire - I wrote this little bit about the Viacom / Dish Network PR war happening on my television one Sunday. And the next thing I knew, The Wisdom had become info central for the Viacom / Dish war. I think a couple of people who found their way here that week are still regular readers.

• Traffic workhorse: Tiger "Pride", indeed - My piece on LSU's recruiting whores ran July 7, 2003, and I still get visitors looking for the chicks whose photos I included. I don't see a lot of searches for Dustin and Daniel, though.

• Breaking news award: Why didn't I see this coming? - The Wisdom beat the working Atlanta media to the story of Georgia's new license plates by a full two weeks.

• Most insensitive anti-Jesus post: No doubt the toughest category to pick in The Wizzies. It could have gone to Pray for the Pope or God (doesn't) work in mysterious ways, but I think the winner has to be Thank you, Jesus, for keeping the Red Sox alive, which detailed the tough choices Mr. Christ had to make in helping Boston win in last year's playoffs.

• Most shameless use of hot-chick photos: ... and smart, too. I still like that Miss Oklahoma.

• Worst post not written in two minutes or less: Miss Georgia Prisons 2003 - This one was written back in the early days of The Wisdom and was just too obtuse and conceptual. Satire based on the actual photos and unusual body markings of female prisoners. The world just isn't ready for that.

• Most under-appreciated post: The final Pivik post - Come on, people. What's a better blog bit than the Cap'n writing Jessica Pivik's column for her after her run at The Reveille ended? I happen to think it's a damn-good piece, but it got no comments and apparently was a dud with Wisdom fans.

• Most-dead horse still being beaten: Cap'n Ken's one-man war against the U.S. Homeland "Security" apparatus.

• Visitor of the Year: It has to be my new French pal Pierre - who came to The Wisdom seeking a free Gmail account and loved it so much he now has a link to The Wisdom on his own (foreign-language) blog. Bienvenue, Pierre!

• Most-dominated Google search: It's got to be "Jessica Pivik", because The Wisdom out-ranked Jessica's own paper after my third or forth column on her. But a close second goes to "Megan Ashford". I don't know a Megan Ashford, and I've never written about anyone by that name. But I got a search hit for "f*cking megan ashford" and included that in my "Cap'n Ken answers your search questions" bit, and now I'm the No. 1 result for "Megan Ashford". Go figure.

And finally ....

• Post of the Year: The best eulogy ever - Topical, controversial, anti-Jesus and loaded with f-bombs, it's also a how-to for conducting Cap'n Ken's own funeral whenever that day arrives.

Saturday, June 19, 2004

Quitting the job*

OK, enough of the tease.

Yes, I quit my job Friday. The important note is that I have a new job I've taken to replace the old job.

Loyal and longtime readers of The Widsom will remember a time when I wrote about TWMBIC (The World's Most Boring Internet Company). Then, as circumstance would have it, the bosses of TWMBIC found The Wisdom themselves, resulting in a dressing-down of Cap'n Ken and an abrupt cessasion of TWMBIC posts.

In short, TWMBIC isn't the kind of place where Cap'n Ken can execute his plan of world domination. Therefore, the Cap'n has been seeking better opportunities to reach his goal of Earth Ruler.

And now I've found it. Where TWMBIC offered stagnation, TNIJ (The New Internet Job) offers promise. TWMBIC was a dead-end. TNIJ is an opportunity.

Yeah, I'm being rather vague. But considering a number of people within TWMBIC have become regular readers of The Wisdom [editor's note: BlogPatrol tells me the IP origins of visitors, so I know when people at TWMBIC visit], and taking into account that I'll still be employed by TWMBIC for 8 more working days, I'm not going to start spilling dirt now.

And, really, I have no beef with TWMBIC. I don't think they "get it", and I told my VP that when I ran into him on my way out Friday. And I'm better off elsewhere (TNIJ). But if TWMBIC is happy with how they do things and how well they perform, more power to them.

But TNIJ offers a lot of opportunity for the Cap'n. It's a significant role in a significant part of a significant company. And, unlike TWMBIC, there's opportunity at TNIJ to do a great job and actually advance within the organization based upon the performance of your job, not just on how long you've been employed there.

Plus, Cokes are 25 cents and they have mini-moos instead of powdered faux creamer in the break room.


*Cap'n Ken was pretty well sauced when writing this. Therefore The Wisdom is not responsible for factual errors, misspellings, obscenities or other general issues with this post.

Friday, June 18, 2004

News flash

I quit my job today.

More later.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

My city at work

The AJC has a piece this morning saying the Mitchell Street bridge downtown has been re-opened for "lightweight vehicle" traffic.

I used this bridge every afternoon on my trek home until it was abruptly closed back in January because the railroad that runs underneath it had it declared unsafe. The city has put off repairing or replacing it for years.

[editor's note: In lieu of actually repairing the crumbling bridge, the city's solution was to hang big steel nets under the bridge to catch the chunks of falling concrete so they didn't land on the tracks. I'm not making that up.]

So in January the city had to shut it down. And the one good link between Northside Drive and the other side of the railroad was cut off (I used it to get over to I-20 on Spring Street).

And now - nearly six months later - the bridge has been re-opened to "lightweight" traffic. What feat of construction and engineering did the city spend these six months working on to re-open the bridge?

"The city has spent $3,000 to prop up the bridge with a steel support, Public Works spokeswoman Pamela Wilson said. It's a temporary fix."

Yep, a pole. Six months to put up a $3,000 pole and open back up a bridge used by hundreds of people a day.

To demonstrate the safety of this fix, Atlanta's public works chief was the first to drive over the re-opened bridge and told the AJC "I have all the confidence in the world in my engineers."

Why does this remind me of the scene in Jaws when the mayor goads the townfolk back into the water after the first shark attack?

I cannot in good conscience provide a link to the story, as AJC.com won't let you read anything without registering, so here's the whole piece for your amusement:

An aging bridge in downtown Atlanta was reopened Wednesday to lightweight vehicles.

The Mitchell Street bridge, a heavily used route into downtown from the west side, had been closed since January because it was crumbling. Atlanta Public Works Commissioner David Scott was the first to drive over the reopened bridge.

"I have all the confidence in the world in my engineers," Scott said.

The city has spent $3,000 to prop up the bridge with a steel support, Public Works spokeswoman Pamela Wilson said. It's a temporary fix.

The 80-year-old bridge is slated to be demolished and replaced in 2007 at an estimated cost of $16 million.

The bridge, which crosses railroad tracks near the Georgia Dome, has been declared safe by a state Department of Transportation bridge inspector, but only for light vehicles, such as cars, pickup trucks, vans and sport utility vehicles.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Today's terror alert

Readers of The Wisdom love when I start getting off on anti-anti-terrorism rants. Maybe I should create a special blog just for exposing the ridiculousness of the "security" efforts in America, but I doubt many people would read it.

It seems most Americans are happy to stand in 2-hour lines at the airport while "security" people feel for weapons in the artificial knees of 70-year-old women*.

And yes, I know I just wrote about the mall-bomb plot yesterday, and my prediction of a mall "security" panic still holds (Christmas season, maybe?).

But a piece in USA Today today underscores my two main points about this whole "security" thing.

It was a story about Boston's plan to randomly search passengers on its subway system and why such a plan is not likely to catch on elsewhere. Two quotes in the story really jumped out at me:

"We don't need another wake-up call like Madrid. We need more funding". That came from the head of the American Public Transit Association.

Invest money in fighting terrorism. Sounds like a good idea. But the problem is demonstrated very clearly in another quote found in the piece, this one from the head of a think tank created by the federal government to research transportation issues.

"If terrorists know that there is a potential of them being identified and checked, it becomes a better deterrent ... The problem is you have to be careful about profiling because it is a no-no in our society."

And there you have it. "Sure, it would be great if we could convince the terrorists that we're going to identify and catch them, but since our policy is that we search everybody or we don't search anybody, we're never going to be able to do that."

Read the USA Today story.

* Absolutely true story that happened to the wife's cousin when the wife's family was heading for Hawaii a couple of months ago.

Monday, June 14, 2004

Prediction

In the next few days, the cry will begin that shopping malls and other public places suffer from a dangerous lack of “security”.

This will come in response to today’s arrest of a Muslim suspected in a plot to blow up a mall in Ohio.

Unfortunately, it seems like the terrorists do know how to bring down the U.S. (although there's really no need to train for this kind of thing in Ethiopia for a year).

Not too long after Sept. 11, I put together my mental "If I were a terrorist" to-do list, and blowing up bombs at malls was near the top.

Here, in case you're a terrorist, are the three most effective ways I came up with to destroy the U.S.:

• Mall Attacks

The setup - Send 5 Muslims to 5 different shopping malls across the U.S. with explosives stuffed in their backpacks. Have them put the backbacks in the food courts and set them to blow up at roughly the same time.

The result - Bombs go off, killing a few people but sending Americans into a panic. All shopping malls in the U.S. shut down for a few days, then re-open with few people venturing inside. The federal government hastily organizes the Mall Security Administration within the Department of Homeland Defense and commits $10 billion a year to installing metal detectors and staffing the entrances of every mall in America with MSA agents so every person entering the mall can be screened.

The effect - Retail spending drops by 40% overnight and takes more than a year to recover. Major retailers declare bankruptcy; tens or hundreds of thousands of retail workers laid off; more federal spending drains economy; U.S. pushed back into recession. Amazon.com stock rises 75%.

Why this works - Faced with any chance of danger, Americans cower and then demand to be made “safe”. Five small bombs could drain billions out of the economy overnight.

Level of effort for the terrorists -1 (on a 1 - 10 scale)


• Suitcase Shuffle

The setup - Send 5 Muslims to 5 different airports across the U.S. with explosives stuffed in their suitcases. Each Muslim checks in for a flight, checks their bags and leaves the airport.

The result - Two possibilities - either one or more of the bombs go off, or one or more of the bombs is found. In either case, the event would shut down the U.S. commercial air system once the other bombs are found. People again avoid flying, the TSA adds another $25 billion to its budget and spends another 45 minutes searching all of the old white women.

The effect - Post-Sept. 11 revisited. Airlines seek a bailout, but probably don’t get it. Major carriers fail; people are afraid to fly; travel industry goes back into recession and the U.S. economy is carried with it. Federal spending on transportation “security” causes further economic harm, higher taxes, etc.

Why this works - You saw what happened after Sept. 11, right? The recession was caused by a collapse in the travel industry and related economic panic; not by the actual destruction that took place. And now the Muslims don’t even need to bring down any planes. Just the realization that a coordinated effort was put together to blow up planes will send the public back to panic.

Level of effort for the terrorists -3


• School Bus Boom

The setup - Send 15 two-person teams of Muslims to 15 different towns across America armed with RPGs, big-ass guns or whatever other destructive stuff they can find. Each team rents a car and pulls up to a school bus on the same morning. They take out the big bananas at about the same time.

The result - The children?!?!?!? They’re attacking THE CHILDREN?!?!?!?!?!?! Schools shut down for two weeks; Moms are afraid to let their kids out of the house; police forces across America begin to hire School Bus Patrol officers by the thousands; school systems order new $400,000 armored Blue Birds.

The effect - The crippling effect on local governments and school boards would be amazing. Per-pupil spending would reach $50,000 thanks to increased security, and local police budgets would skyrocket, causing massive property tax increases and ultimately collapsing the housing market. Banks fail, recession follows.

Why this works - Anything that threatens “the children” must be met with an overkill of expensive “security” measures, bankrupting the local goverments who just can’t say no to “the children”.

Level of effort for the terrorists -4

It should be noted that I do not (seeing as I am not a Muslim) advocate any of these (or other) terror tactics, but I see the potential for a relatively small terror effort to paralyze the U.S.

And the reason is this: Americans are stupid, scared and lazy. We're the perfect target for terrorists. Where Brits withstood months of German bombing raids in World War II, Americans would just move en mass to Montana. Where the Israelis cope with everyday bombings, Americans would freak out.

The effectiveness of terrorism depends not on the act, but on the effect. Remember that when the first mayor or police chief recommends more "security" at the local mall.

Don't push me

The wife and I came home from NashVegas last night (taking the long way through Birmingham to avoid the mud-splattered hippies leaving Bonaroo) to find an interesting thing recorded on the upstairs TiFaux.

It was a 7-minute bit that fired off at 4 a.m. Sunday and was labeled something like "Recommend Dish Network and get $50". And, sure enough, it was a Dish Network promotion apparently pushed down to the DVR by the company, ala the TiVo forced programming fiasco of last year.

This did not please me. I don't care if it was only 7 minutes worth of DVR capacity they took from me, and I don't care that I was able to erase it without watching. I own this equipment and I pay Dish about $75 a month for their service. I won't open an argument about whether they have the "right" to push promotional crap down to my DVR, but - at least from this subscriber's point of view - it's certainly not good business practice.

I'm going to call Dish and find out what the hell is up with this, and I'll update my findings when I hear from them. Also, it's interesting that they pushed the stuff down to the DishPVR 501 but not the DishPVR 721. It could be that they are less concered about pissing off a customer who paid $200 for a DVR than they are a customer who paid $600 for one, or maybe it's because I'm still about the only person in America who owns a DishPVR 721.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

Words our dogs understand

OK, you've probably seen this story about how researchers have learned that dogs can comprehend words.

If you're a dog owner, this is probably not surprising. But it's interesting to see some scientific research backing it up.

All of this led me to think about our dogs (Big Brown and Little Black), what words they know, and what words I wish they knew.

What They Know

Big Brown Dog:

• "walk" - The most obvious thing a dog would learn, I guess. Saying the word - especially while wearing shorts and sneakers - means you're taking him out. Even if "walk" was in the context of a baseball game.

• "out front" - A few months ago, I figured out that the easiest way to get the BBD to take a piss before bedtime was to let him wander unleashed in the front yard. With so many dogs passing our house each day, he'll instantly drain his bladder to re-mark our trees out there. The problem is, now he absolutely refuses to go to bed unless he's been out front. So around 11 each night, I say "out front" and he leaps up out of his slumber on the sofa and dashes to the front door. Once finished outside, he heads straight to his room, awaits his bedtime treat and retires for the evening.

• "drop" - The BBD recognizes this word when we're playing fetch, but it has a different meaning for him than it has for me. When I say "drop", I mean "drop the ball so I can throw it". When he hears "drop", he turns away, runs behind the grill or otherwise prepares to fight me for control of the ball. To him, "drop" means "go time!"

Little Black Dog:

• "breakfast" and "dinner" - Here's the life of the LBD in a nutshell - He wakes up about 6:30 a.m. and demands breakfast. From 6:32 a.m. until we get home, he's thinking about dinner. He eats dinner within 3 minutes of us getting home, and then he thinks about breakfast until he goes to bed. We don't dare say "breakfast" or "dinner" if we're not intending to put food in front of him.

• "treat" - Because food is the focus of the LBD's life, and because he's such a bastard, every positive action he takes throughout the day is rewarded with a Snausage or other fine dog treat. He begs to go to bed at night so he can get one. Starting about 8:30 every night, he asks to go outside every 5 minutes or so, because he gets a treat after he takes a crap, and he figures he can fool us into thinking he craps 10 times between 8:30 and 10. "Treat" is a word we also don't dare use in the house, because the LBD is already rewarded at every turn.

• "potty" - As in "did you go potty?". The LBD understands that if you say the word "potty" in a sentence, you are expecting an excited reaction, and that excited reaction gets him a treat. There's an important distinction here. It's not that he associates actually going potty as the trigger for getting a treat; in his mind it's barking excitedly when the word "potty" is spoken that is rewarded.

• "[doorbell sound]" - To the LBD, a doorbell sound means "someone is here, and I must kill them." This was really amusing when we lived in the old house, which did not have a working doorbell. But TV doorbells draw the same reaction. He's especially set off by the doorbells on South Park, Frasier and Domino's commercials. When we're feeling especially mean, we'll hit the back button on the TiFaux and play the doorbell sounds over and over.

What I Wish They Knew

• "no"
• "shut up" (LBD)
• "come here"
• "go away"
• "chill out"

Monday, June 07, 2004

Three pounds of pepperoni

The wife and I went to BJ's Warehouse Club this weekend (I'm never one to turn down BJs), and true to form dropped more than $200 there.

Not that it wasn't $200+ well spent. We loaded up and will be set for lint brushes, Atkins' shakes and diapers (for the little black dog - sick, I know) for months.

But among our purchases was an item I'm still having trouble comprehending - a three-pound bag of sliced pepperoni.

Yep, three pounds.

Our decision to buy a pillowcase full of pepperoni came from the wife's repeated attempts to make croissant pizza for herself. I'd pick up croissant dough and the little Hormel pepperoni packs (8 ounces) at Ghetto Kroger, but by the time she was ready to make the pizza, I'd snacked away all the slices. Pepperoni is like vanilla wafers for the Atkins Nation.

And, thus, we own a three-pound bag of pepperoni. I opened it up the other night to grab a snack, and I could barely fit the slices into a 1-gallon Ziplock bag.

The damn thing takes up half the meat drawer. To get to anything in that drawer, you have to shove aside the pepperoni, which just lies there like a dead possum on the highway.

So now I'm pondering the options - pepperoni omlettes, pepperoni-topped burgers, pepperoni protein shakes ... who knows.

Of course, we also bought the four-pack of croissant dough - so the wife best get to making some damn pizza.

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

We shall overcome

Today's Wednesday, so I won't be going to The All-New Ghetto Kroger. I learned a good while back that shopping at Kroger on Wednesdays isn't good for my blood pressure.

It is on Wednesdays, you see, that Kroger knocks 5% off of your entire bill if you happen to be old. And I've come uncomfortably close in the past to demanding my 5% discount from the cashier (and potentially getting in a shouting match / going to jail) on the basis of Kroger illegally discriminating against customers based on age. So for the sake of my sanity - and to prevent the wife from having to bail me out of Atlanta City Jail - I just avoid Kroger on Wednesdays.

[editor's note: Cap'n Ken has, on one occasion, tapped the "YES" button on the U-Scan when asked "Do you qualify for a senior citizen's discount?" while Wednesday shopping. The machine did not challenge the Cap'n on his right to the discount.]

I see no difference between Kroger saying groceries cost 5% less on Wednesdays if you're old than saying they cost 5% more on Thursdays if you're black. It's discrimination based upon age, and that's supposed to be a no-no here in America.

And now the New Jersey civil rights' czar has issued a ruling that backs up my position. He found that "ladies' night" discounts illegally discriminate against men.

For the record, I have no problem at all with ladies' nights. I especially endorse the kind of ladies' night where they bring in male strippers to get the girls both liquored up and horny before letting the guys in. If that's not worth a $10 cover charge, I don't know what is.

Moreover, my personal opinion is that private-sector discrimination of all types should be legal. If Joe Bob doesn't like black folks and doesn't want to serve them at his BBQ joint, he should have that right.

I think the free market and private activism would drive most of those kinds of places out of business, anyway. Take the case of Denny's, for instance. The agent of change that led Denny's to stop putting the black man down wasn't the threat of fines by the government, it was the public-relations nightmare caused by the publicity.

I believe businesses and individuals should be free to discriminate as they see fit. But if the U.S. is set on creating an environment where discrimination based on race, religion, gender, age, sexual orientation, national origin, etc. is illegal, then I'm all for rulings like the ladies' night case.

No free drinks for gals ... and I want my damn 5% off!