Friday, January 30, 2009

Fast Talk: It came from the Movie Title!

Wal-Mart, I learn, will not sell the Kevin Smith film Zack and Miri Make a Porno unless the word "Porno" is taken out of the title.

Seriously? I wonder if the retail giant will go through its back titles to edit them, too. Dial M for Murder might get redacted to Dial M. What's next, The Unstigmatized Mental Illness of King George? Look for the final installment of the Star Wars trilogy as The Justifiable Concerns of the Sith.

Here are some more titles to look for coming soon to DVD at Walmart:

The Bright Knight
Dog Millionaire

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Fast Talk: Receipts

I was at a local big-box store today and purchased a set of headphones. One single item. I made my purchase, and was handed a receipt that measures over 11 inches in length -- longer than an ordinary piece of paper. The receipt includes the following information: the store name, the contract ID number (we have a contract?), the store's address and phone number, the date and time, the store name again, the item I purchased, the cost of the item, an invitation to tell them how they are doing online, a promise that if I fill out the online survey I could win a gift card, a series of codes for when I go online and do the survey, an indication of where I can find the contest rules (not printed on the receipt thankfully), a notice indicating I can order items online and pick them up at the store if I want to, the price of my item again, the tax amount, the total, four digits from my Visa number (plus 12 Xs), the GST registration number, something called the ACI/ISO#, and a final note that (wait for it) I bought just one thing.

Now, I'm glad to have some this -- the total and a reminder of which credit card I put it on, but do I really need all this information and does it really have to take up so much paper? This store must dole out the equivalent of thousands of sheets of paper a day at this rate. But what really bugs me is that half of the damn thing is marketing and advertising. I know stores must advertise, but can I not be shielded from the marketers even immediately after I've made a purchase? It's like the waiter at a restaurant bringing you another menu at the end of the meal in case you want to take something out or order ahead before your next meal. I'm not hungry! I just ate! Leave me alone!

Next time I'm tearing off the part I need and giving them the rest back. See how they like having a lot of useless paper on their desks.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Some wisdom for my walls

As regular readers of this space may recall, I am not a religious man, but I do believe that all long-standing religions have some wisdom to offer us. How could it be otherwise when the best minds of the various civilizations have given themselves up to contemplating the world through the lenses of their various traditions?

But it was recently pointed out to me that my own home shows little of this attitude. I have some Buddhist pictures and related items around, and many books about various religions (and about atheism), but not much to suggest the view that I have outlined above.

Rising to this challenge I resolved (and promised) to select quotations from representatives of the great spiritual traditions of the world to adorn my study's walls. The stairway in my house already has quotations from some ancient pagans (like Aristotle), so I will take paganism as covered. Of course, I cannot have a quotation from every religion, but here is what I have for five, and I'm pretty pleased with them. In all cases I have tried to select either from religious texts themselves or believers (I had to rule out Einstein, here, because I am convinced that he was, in the main, an atheist).

"The ground's generosity takes in our compost and grows beauty! Try to be more like the ground." (Rumi)

"When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things." (Paul)

"The question put by a wise man is half the answer." (Shlomo ben Yehudah)

"Weigh a man's merits and weigh his faults. Then judge him according to the greater." (Tirukkural)

"If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete." (Jack Kornfield)