Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Potpourri No. 25

The following potpourri post has been brought to you by:

Florida’s faux fall season seems to be upon us. Sort of. During the last few mornings, it has felt pleasantly cool outside. It’s quite exhilarating, though it’s a darn shame when the afternoon comes and the temperature once again hits the 90s. Still, I anticipate the drop in temperatures that must surely come. Bring it on!

The first crunch time of the semester is also upon us. Last week, one of my instructors assigned a 209-page reading assignment, plus another reading assignment, plus a 3-4 page essay on that first reading assignment, all due within a week’s time. If that weren’t crazy enough, I have another 5-7 page essay due just a few days later, not to mention 40-45 essays that I need to grade for undergraduates within a few days after that. This has brought about a roller coaster of emotions, including stops at both “suicidal” and “murderous.” Fortunately, I’m currently in a better-than-not state of mind. I think it’s because I’m doing something wrong.

A week ago, the janitor who cleans the building housing the philosophy department asked to borrow a dollar from me. Blame it on my old-fashioned values, but that somehow struck me as a breach of social protocol. Not that I was offended. But what will offend me is if I never get paid back. He told me when he accepted my loan that he would have it back to me last Friday, but I haven’t seen it yet. That’s fine. When I gave him the dollar, I didn’t necessarily expect to see it again. I still don’t have much hope in getting repaid, but the janitor did tell me, “I didn’t forget about you!” the last time we passed each other, and that was more than I expected from him. So who knows. It sure beats having a janitor who uses your office to look up naughty sounding things on MySpace when he thinks you won’t be coming in. Oh wait, my janitor does that too. Shucks!

I recently received some super-exclusive junk mail from Barclays Bank Deleware, informing me—a grad student living largely on student loans—that I am pre-approved for “the world’s most prestigious” Visa card ever—the “Black Card.” What amuses me is not so much that I was the ill-selected recipient of said advertisement, but that anyone would find the offer alluring in the first place. It amazes me how much some people must thrive on feeling socioeconomically superior to others, yet that is the primary sentiment on which this advertisement hopes to thrive. Two elements of the card offer stood out to me as utterly ridiculous. The first is the annual fee—$495! And the ad highlights this as though it were a nifty feature of the card! Sadly, this means there must be people out there who will feel better about themselves knowing they have a credit card with such an astronomically high (and asinine) fee. “I pay $500 a year just to have this card in my wallet!” I guess there are some bragging rights there??? Secondly, I was amused by the following non-sequitur, which I urge you to really think about as you read it, asking yourself if it makes any genuine sense: “For those who demand only the best of what life has to offer, the exclusive Visa Black Card is for you. The Black Card is not just another piece of plastic. Made with carbon, it is the ultimate buying tool.” Huh? So, if you want the best things in life, you should make sure your credit card is not made out of plastic, even though the plastic credit cards do the very same things that a non-plastic credit card could do? And what does the last sentence of that quotation really mean? How does the carbon affect your purchasing power or buying opportunities whatsoever? It makes no sense. I think the final sentence is probably meant to say something like this: “Made with carbon, there is a decent chance, at least for a while, that any cashier who takes your card will experience the following fleeting realization: ‘Hey, this credit card is made out of different stuff than I’m used to. Strange.’ Don’t you think that will give your irrational sense of pride a great big boner? We do.”

Thank you and good night!


  1. Eddie did tell me to feel the cold pavement outside our front door yesterday morning. Our kids really don't know what cold is!

  2. When I worked with carbon I knew a guy that would literally get excited for anything made from it. He had better not see this ad because he might do it just to have a carbon fiber card. NONSENSE!

  3. It makes me worry. If many people are really that isn't even an attractive card in any way. Advertising is really full of lies and idiocy.