The Last Word

Issue #491

August 2015

Toll calls take their toll
I pleaded.
I begged.
I implored.
I didn’t bubble, but I pleaded, I begged, and
I implored.
I abandoned my traditional landline
telephone service in favor of a cell phone 5 years
ago, and I made it very clear to friends and fam that
it was not for frivolous purposes. That’s because
every call was a toll call—i.e., long-distance. I
buyed a calling plan that let me stockpile minutes
for when I really needed them. But even if the call
was just up the street, it costed money. Instead of
calling someone more than 5 miles away being
long-distance like with Cincinnati Bell, now it was
all calls, and the charges were now paid not just by
the caller, but also the recipient of the call—i.e., me.
That’s the unregulated phone biz.
I didn’t expect most people to understand
why I had to conserve minutes—but I explained it to
family members a fillion times. Still, when family
called, they often squandered many minutes
belaboring simple points. A couple months ago, I
finally got fed up when a family member called me
to rant at me for 20 minutes because I got money out of an ATM (from my own damn bank account, not theirs).
That call alone was $5 down the johnnypooper. That’s not to mention the robocalls from the monopolistic HMO
that Kentucky requires us to use. It also didn’t help that my cell phone company breaks up text messages that are
more than a few words long—just so they can charge me more to receive each message.
So a few weeks ago, I got a new phone plan. It costs more than my old plan would have cost if I was still
allowed to use it sparingly like I used to. But it costs less than what my old plan would cost now that I’m forced
to field lengthy calls prying about my finances. Now I just pay a flat price each month.
A shame that we don’t truly control our own phone lines anymore, but I guess it’s all part of capitalism—
the biggest behavior modification program in history.

Organ trail (a poopyism)
Something funny happened in Keizer, Oregon, back in 2007.
And now it’s a poopyism, imagine that.
The city installed a row of 52 cement posts at a busy
intersection to protect pedestrians from vehicles. All was well and good
until a few microseconds after the posts were installed—when people
noticed that the posts were shaped exactly like penises. The posts were a
dick army, if you will (or if you won’t).
When confronted with the fact that the posts resembled penises,
the city manager said, “I can’t disagree with that.” But he said the city
ordered the posts from a catalog, and the picture in the catalog did not
look like a penis. Maybe city officials confused it with something from
a holiday toy catalog. They must have thought it was a Family Tree
House or something.
After residents complained, the city proposed adding chains

between the posts, but said that if the posts continued to look like penises, they would be removed—thus flushing
$20,000 of taxpayer money clean down the poopot.
All because people thought they saw penises everywhere.

So false...Funny how it seems...
I want the truth to be said. Especially about right-wing influences in the music business.
It’s strange that any music act would be on the political right, because the Far Right itself is known for its
antimusic propaganda (which is why MTV was kept off cable here for its first 18 months). Then again, most big
names in music are zillionaires—so I guess it evens out.
Many of you know about American singers and musicians with far-right tendencies—like Ted Nugent and
Ray Stevens. But it isn’t only Americans. It’s British music stars too. For instance, Eric Clapton lives in denial
that one of his favorite politicians was racist.
I’ve discovered another British music figure whose right-wing leanings are just as ridiculous: Spandau
Ballet lead singer Tony Hadley. You may remember his videos from the early MTV era or that absurd suit he wore
during his Solid Gold appearance. Now Hadley is described as “the Tories’ biggest celebrity backer” and has been
reported to be interested in seeking public office as a member of the Conservative Party.
crooner is a particularly
irritating brand of rightwinger. Tony Hadley
would fit in well with
American talk radio
back in the days when
America’s urban areas
conservatives and they
complained about street
crime that their policies
bellyached, “The fabric
of society is torn. I
Blackpool and there
were gangs walking the
back streets and 16-yearold pregnant women
everywhere. What we
need is for David Cameron to be like Thatcher, to say, ‘Enough is enough, things have gone too far.’ Five-year
mandatory sentences for carrying a knife and 10 years for carrying a gun. We will build however many prisons we
need.” The right-wing hypocrisy is particularly bippus-busting, because conservatives are supposed to be the ones
who support the right to carry a weapon. I guess this right only applies to the Tea Party and III% criminals who
swaggered around in their soiled trousers threatening Bureau of Land Management officials during the Cliven
Bundy standoff.
Hadley brags that he’s never claimed public benefits—and acts like anyone who does is some sort of
failure in life—but here again he’s being hypocritical. He was born at an English hospital that according to
Wikipedia was built to provide “free care to those of little means.” I can guess what happened: I suspect Tony
Hadley wasn’t always a right-wing gasbag. He probably used to be an easygoing guy who liked phone books and
Speak & Spells just like everyone else. But when he struck it big, his success spoiled him. Tony Hadley just
wasn’t Tony Hadley anymore.
In interviews, the suave singer usually just wants to talk about his money, where he invests it, and his
expensive Jaguars. “I love checks,” he also declared.
Useless observation I can’t fit anywhere else: When I was a sophomore at the fascist Bishop Brossart
High School, our literature textbook included a play that—for no apparent reason—was accompanied by a photo
of a man who strongly resembled Tony Hadley. I remember seeing that picture and bursting out laughing. I never
understood the play, but then again, we studied this play during the Pandemic of ‘88 which my high school helped
cause, so I missed pretty much all the coursework on it.
So—as the late Casey Kasem might say—now you know what’s happened to Spandau Ballet vocalist
Tony Hadley. On with the countdown!

How uncool people party like it’s 1999
This is what uncool people did on the Internet in 1953, except it was 1999.
Because of computer problems at the start of this month—which helped delay this ish again—I was going
through some files I had hoarded for years to see what I could get rid of. Some of these items are on their fifth
computer now, since computers these days last about 3 days before they become too slow to use. I found one little
blast from the past that I know I covered in these pages in the olden days, but it’s so outrageously idiotic I can’t
resist covering it again in the newen days.
It happened in 1999. Can you guess what it was? That’s right, it was a Nyx meltdown. This was back in
the days when Nyx—which still claims today to be the world’s oldest ISP—was known for its smug, vocal refusal
to control its spoiled children stampeding up and down Usenet, and justifying it under True Free Speach Now™.
But while the peeps at Nyx claimed to be free speech whizzes, they tried censoring Usenet in full view of the
entire big, mean world.
One day, someone posted a message selling a cable TV descrambler box. Someone replied to it, providing
a link to a website that purported to give cheap, legal ways to descramble TV signals. Under the Constitution’s
way, there was nothing illegal about it. But a Nyx guy went off half-cocked and reported that message to the
sender’s ISP. Not the original ad. He reported the message replying to it. He said to this person’s ISP, “You’ve got
a cable TV descrambler spammer using you as a web host. Please nuke.”
It was only in one newsgroup, genius. So it wasn’t spam. It wasn’t even an ad. The poster’s ISP correctly
pointed this out. It “was a one time reply to another post.”
But the Nyx guy doubled down. He went on a Usenet abuse newsgroup and bawled his face off about the
other ISP refusing to yank someone’s account just for replying to one post in one newsgroup. He labeled it a
“rogue” ISP all because it wouldn’t do things his way.
In The Last Word of 1999, I envisioned the self-anointed Usenet spam police as looking something like
the owner of the comic book shop on The Simpsons crying and bawling...

That doesn’t mean spam is a good thing. It’s just that the Usenet Cabal in the late ‘90s had a much
different definition of spam than normal people have. A general rule was that if something actually was spam, it
wasn’t spam, according to them. (One of their favorite battle cries was, “Abuse on the ‘Net is not abuse of the
‘Net.”) And vice versa.
Maybe all this could have been solved by a vacation to Coolsville where that guy could have learned how
to be cool.
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