Monday, December 3, 2012

When the nightly news pimps for the lottery

Posted By on Mon, Dec 3, 2012 at 11:18 AM

I figure you have the same chance of winning the lottery whether you play or not. - Fran Lebowitz

Another lifetime ago, back in the early 1990s, several of my co-workers from the Mexican Original plant in Fayetteville would drive to Missouri every weekend and “invest” (which is how a couple of them put it to me) their money in lottery tickets.

Sometimes they might win enough to pay for the gas for the return trip - after many other fruitless trips of buying tickets and having their ship fail to come home. This did not occur to them, though, the victory - such as it was- was all that mattered.

It’s not called the “idiot tax” for nothing, though just try mentioning that to someone who believes that the lottery is their key to eternal bliss. I have seen actual rage on the part of some folks at the very suggestion that they are being played for fools.

Now, of course, we can buy lottery tickets in Arkansas, whose proceeds go towards scholarships for deserving Arkansas students. Many is the time in convenience stores I have heard the battle cry, “Let me have a few lottery tickets! I need to help the young people of Arkansas!”

You have as well, right?

I haven’t been immune to games of chance myself in the past, but fortunately was able to pull myself back from any fiscal cliff by eventually remembering the old adage, “The house always wins.”

Last week Powerball hit something like 40 gazillion dollars in its jackpot, and the nation was all agog with “Powerball fever”- or we were if we were to believe the guffawing “news” anchors we are subjected to in our search for for information every night.

There are so many things in the world that I believe are real, actual news, and lottery results, if they need to be carried at all, perhaps should be at the end of the programs. After all, there are events happening far and wide in the world (that don’t involve cute videos on YouTube) that the nightly news runs away from in its never-ending quest to be irrelevant in our lives.

Today, for example, Vidal Vega, a peasant leader Paraguay, was shot dead. Think you’ll find any room for that, between looking at Powerball and cute cats?

Ireland is considering liberalizing its abortion laws, in cases where the life of the mother is involved, even in cases of potential suicide. Oh, look, a talking rabbit!

When news anchors turn on the folksy charm and pimp for the lottery of the moment it seems a particularly grim misuse of the news, especially given the fact that most of those who but lottery tickets (and so come to think of themselves as investing) are at the lower end of the economic ladder. In essence, those in the news media help to manipulate those at the lower end (especially with the grinning and giggling) into buying even more tickets.

Yes, there are the almost obligatory short pieces about how some folks become addicted to buying lottery tickets, but these segments are sandwiched in by the “Come on, it could be you!” attitude of the anchors - both local and national.

I suppose we can’t expect much better, when stores send video promos to stations about their latest products and they run them as “news,” but still . . .

******

Farewell to Wylladean Richards of West Fork

When I read the article in the Northwest Arkansas Times last Friday (“Woman Dies In Truck Collision”) I just thought, what a senseless way to die, being a passenger in an accident.

I had worked with Wylladean Richards 20 years ago at Mexican Original, and met her daughter, Regina Crouch, when she worked at Superior Industries. Though I didn’t know Wylladean especially well, she seemed like a nice person.

I’m sorry you’re dead, Wylladean, and I’m sorry that you had to leave your family the way you did.

*****

When cell doors are “accidentally" left open

Good, the son-of-a-bitch got what he deserved.

I’m sure this went through the minds of many, if not most, who heard that Zachary Holly, arrested for the murder of Jersey Bridgeman, was beaten by a jail trustee (passing out towels) after his cell door was “accidentally” left unlocked at the Benton County Jail.

If Zachary Holly is guilty of murdering and raping this young child, he deserves to be in the bowels of Hell for a long, long time to come.

But even though he is charged with something that repulses us, he hasn’t had his day in court yet, something guaranteed to all Americans. Over the years I have interviewed a number of men whose cell doors have been “accidentally” left open, and have been the victims of savages beatings.

This sets up the folks running jails as separate from the courts, with their very own judge and jury systems, and their own systems of punishment.

Just for the sake of argument, I’ll accept that somebody at the Benton County Jail wasn’t paying attention for the moment, and someone was able to vent their rage on Holly.

What might happen if the next time a cell door is accidentally left unlocked, and someone a lot more violent gets out? Someone who is intent on going after a jailer, perhaps?

****

Quote of the Day

The handwriting on the wall may be a forgery. - Ralph Hodgson

rsdrake@cox.net

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