Monthly Archives: July 2007

16 Ways to Eat Healthy While Keeping it Cheap

Writen by Mehdi

Eating healthy is important. Eating healthy:

  • Lowers disease risks
  • Increases productivity
  • Gives you more energy
  • Makes you stronger

You probably think eating healthy is expensive. I’ll be honest – it is. But there are tricks to keep it low cost. Here are sixteen ways to eat more healthy while keeping it cheap.

What is Healthy Food? Before we start, let’s define healthy food. It consists of:

  • Protein. The building blocks of muscles, needed for strength.
  • Fat. A balanced intake of omega 3, 6 & 9.
  • Veggies. All kinds, especially green fibrous veggies.
  • Fruit. Full of vitamins.
  • Water. 1 liter per 1000 calories you expend.
  • Whole grain food. Oats, rice, pasta, breads, ?

On with the tips.

1. Switch to Water. I drank huge amounts of soda daily for more than 15 years. Then I started Strength Training and switched to water:

  • It’s healthier
  • It’s cheaper

Quit the soda & drink water. Take a bottle wherever you go.

2. Consume Tap Water. Check the price of water on your tap water bill. Now check the price of bottled water. Quit a difference, isn’t it? So why are you buying bottled water?

  • Cleaner? Not necessarily.
  • Better taste? No, simply a matter of Adaptation.

Bottled water companies get their supply from the same source you do: municipal water systems. It’s like selling ice to Eskimos. If you don’t trust the quality of tap water, filter it yourself. I use a Brita Pitcher. One $7 filter cleans 40 gallons water.

3. Eat Eggs. I always have eggs at breakfast:

  • Full of vitamins
  • High in proteins
  • Low in price

Don’t believe the Eggs & Cholesterol myth. Dietary cholesterol is not bound to blood cholesterol. Want to make it cheaper? Buy a chicken.

4. Eat Fatty Meats. Fatty meats are cheaper & more tasty than lean meats. You think it’s not healthy? Check the Fat Myths:

  • Fat doesn’t make you fat, excess calories do
  • You need a balanced intake of fats: omega 3, 6 & 9

I’m on the Anabolic Diet, I buy beef chuck instead of sirloin.

5. Get Whey. The cheapest source of protein. 70$ for a 10lbs bag lasting 4 months. Nothing beats that. Use whey in your Post Workout Shake to help recovery.

6. Tuna Cans. Canned tuna is cheap & contains as much protein as meat. Alternate tuna with eggs, meat & whey. You’ll easily get to your daily amount of protein.

7. Buy Frozen Veggies. I mostly buy frozen veggies:

  • Take less time to prepare
  • You don’t waste money if not eaten in time
  • Can be bought in bulk for discounts & stored in your freezer

If you can afford fresh veggies, then do it. I go frozen.

8. Use a Multivitamin. Pesticides lower the vitamin levels of your fruits & veggies. Two solutions:

  • Buy organic food. Expensive.
  • Use a multivitamin. $10 a month.

Choose what fits your wallet best. I take the multivitamin.

9. Fish Oil. Omega-3 is found in fish oil. Benefits of omega-3 consumption include:

  • Lowered cholesterol levels
  • Decreased body fat
  • Reduced inflammation

You need to eat fatty fish 3 times a week to get these benefits. Time consuming & expensive, I know. Try Carlson‘s Liquid Fish Oil with Lemon flavor. One teaspoon daily. You’ll be ok.

10. Buy Generic Food. The box might be less attractive, it’s certainly more attractive to your wallet. Brand-name food will always be more expensive. You’re paying for the name. Get real. Food is food. Go generic.

11. Buy in Bulk. Think long-term. Buying in bulk is more expensive at the cashier, but cheaper in the long run:

  • Gets you discounts
  • Saves time
  • Saves car fuel

Invest in a big freezer. Buy meats & veggies in bulk and freeze them.

12. Go to One Grocery Store. This grocery store is cheaper for meat, that grocery store is cheaper for veggies, the other grocery store is cheaper for fish? How many grocery stores are you going to, trying to find the cheapest food? Think!

  • Time is money. Stop losing a day shopping.
  • Cars don’t run on water. Lower your fuel expenses.

I get all my food in a big grocery store near my place. It hasn’t the cheapest price for all foods, but it saves me time & fuel.

13. Make a Plan. A classic, but worth repeating. Everything starts with a plan.

  • Make a list of what you need
  • Eat a solid meal, don’t go hungry
  • Go the grocery, get what’s on your list & get out

No need to take your partner or kids with you. This is not a recreational activity. Just get your food & get back home.

14. Take Food To Work. Ever counted how much money you throw away buying food at work daily? Start preparing your food for the day on waking up:

  • Get up earlier
  • Eat a solid breakfast (like Scrambled Eggs)
  • Prepare your food for work in the meanwhile

Total time 30 minutes. No stress during the day about what you’ll be eating & you get healthy food while sparing money.

15. Eat Less. This one is obvious. The less you eat, the lower your grocery bill. If you’re overweight, get on a diet. Your health & bank account will thank you.

16. Don’t Buy Junk Food. The last one. Stop buying anything that comes out of a box, it’s:

  • Unhealthy
  • Expensive

If you actually find junk food that is cheaper than whole food, think long-term. Health implications.

The Best Places to do Everything

Written by Steve Calechman

In life, as in real estate, there are three critical considerations: location, location, and location. Situate yourself for success in everything you do this summer

Best Place to. . .

. . . Have Sex with Her for the First Time.

Her place, her bed. Why the away game? At your place, her mind will wander to two classic turnoffs: (1) Who else has been here? and (2) Are you still thinking about those women? At her place, she has maximum comfort for a nervous situation, says Debby Herbenick, Ph.D., Men’s Health “Bedroom Confidential” columnist. Once there, compliment her sense of style to increase the warm feelings. Dim the lights in her room; she’ll like the mood but will still want to see that you’re there. And wake up early to fetch the groceries you’ll whip into breakfast. Being attentive is blue-chip material.

. . . Start a 10-K Race.

They’ll post projected finish times along the area before the starting line; step just in front of the mob at your time. You won’t be stuck in traffic, and the runners ahead will prevent you from going out too fast. And stick to the side where the first turn will be, so you can hug that corner. Now, to break your personal best, every mile for the first three, take a relaxed-paced walking break — 10 to 15 seconds for a 6-minute pace, 15 to 20 for 7, 20 to 25 for 8, and 25 to 30 for 9, says Jeff Galloway, running coach and author of Galloway’s Book on Running. You won’t lose much time, and you’ll conserve energy that will let you eat up ground and blast by Al from bookkeeping — who wouldn’t shut up about how unbeatable he was going to be.

. . . Catch A Foul Ball.

Dolphin Stadium, Section 143, July 31, August 1 or 2. The Marlins drew the fewest fans in the majors last year, averaging slightly more than 14,000 a game. The league has more right-handed than left-handed hitters, who tend to foul the opposite way, making an infield box down the first-base line your spot, says Jon Miller, play-by-play man for ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball. And the series — midweek, good for low turnouts — features the Colorado Rockies with Todd Helton, the reigning foul-ball king. Yeah, he’s a lefty, so when he’s up, hop on over to section 156 to maximize your chances. There probably won’t be much traffic.

. . . Sit At Your Regular Poker Game.

To the immediate left of the most aggressive player. Money moves to the left, and you want to see how he acts before you play. If that turns out to be at the head of the table, even better: You can see everyone and snag maximum legroom. Once comfortable, your goal is to isolate Captain Macho. Since he’s prone to play weaker hands, you’ll have your chance. Just be patient for a decent starting hand and raise three to four times his initial bet to drive the pretenders out, says Daniel Negreanu, professional poker player. It might not look great, but a 7-8 of the same suit can turn into gold after the flop. Plus it’ll be hard for opponents to figure out what you’re holding.

. . . Park for the Big Game.

In a private lot on the outbound side. Walking a little at the beginning will bring huge returns 3 hours later, because unless you have quick-exit VIP parking, you’re rubbing bumpers with 80,000 friends. “The load-in is gradual. The exit is all at once,” says Roamy Valera, with Timothy Haahs & Associates, an engineering and architecture firm. If you have no choice but to enter the stadium lot, park as far from the game and as close to the section exit as possible, for the best chance of squeezing out before daybreak.

. . . Take a Group Photo.

Standing on a balcony or chair. Shooting down makes people look up, and looking up makes people look better, says Danny Clinch, a New York City photographer. Have Phil tell the story that always makes Aunt Cheryl spit water, or ask each person to tell a joke. People will listen, relax, and forget about the camera. Shoot just before, during, and after they laugh, to capture a series of natural looks. One more trick: If they’re sitting, ask them to lean toward the center of the group, and as soon as they start, click. More doing and less thinking. Wait too long and it’ll be too posed.

. . . Sit On a Couch for a Group Picture.

It doesn’t matter where, just lean forward. You’ll have to look up, and putting your forearms on your knees will hide any gut, Clinch says. Leaning back will cause you to look down and across your chest, giving even the most ripped cover model some unsightly chin business.

. . . See the Manhattan Skyline.

30 Rock, Jersey City, and Brooklyn. First stop, the new observation deck at 30 Rockefeller Center in Manhattan. Seventy stories up, you’ll have an unobstructed midtown view in all directions and have a strong sense of how dense and compact Manhattan is. Then walk to Fifth Avenue and 53rd Street and take the E train downtown to the World Trade Center station, where you’ll catch a PATH train to Exchange Place in Jersey City. Go to the large pier. Stand on the large pier. Look for the city. It’ll be hard to miss. You’ll see about half the island without having to turn your head. Hit it in the afternoon to see the sun reflecting off the buildings, says Mark McKennon, a New York City location scout and manager. Then hop back on the PATH to the World Trade Center stop and take a 2 or 3 train to Brooklyn. Get off at Clark Street and walk to the Brooklyn Heights Promenade (between Montague and Cranberry streets, but well above the East River). It’s a little sliver of a city park that will give you the reverse of the Jersey City view, with the Brooklyn Bridge thrown in. The elevation makes it possible to look across the East River and take in another huge scene without having to move your head. You’ll want to be there at the end of the day, when the sun sets and the lights of the buildings are still on. For transit info, go to and

. . . Watch Tiger Woods Play.

Akron, Ohio, Sunday, early August, Firestone Country Club course. It’s called the Bridgestone Invitational. It’s not a hard ticket. It’s a World Golf Championship tourney, so it attracts the cream from all time zones. And the course is laid out in a user-friendly north-south fashion, making it easy to bop between holes. Be sure to catch Tiger on the 16th. It’s a par 5, so there’s a chance he’ll bring out the driver. “It’s a balls-out swing that sounds like a gunshot,” says David Feherty, CBS golf analyst. After that, he could try to make it in two or lay up for a tricky third shot over water to a small, firm green. “That hole has it all. One of the great par 5s of all time,” Feherty says. For more info, go to

. . . Sit in a Restaurant.

Solo, at the corner of the bar. The food’s the same. You can look out over the restaurant, and your server for the evening will be the bartender, who’ll be more than happy to provide you with info on all things hot waitress. If you’re dining with a special someone, ask for a table in a corner away from the kitchen, and sit next to each other, not across, to up the intimacy factor, says Todd English, a chef and restaurateur. Make a 7:30 reservation. It’s just before the crunch, so adrenaline will be pumping and service should be optimal.

. . . See How a Magic Trick is Done.

Front row, as far to the left as possible. You’ll be able to see the magician’s right hand, the one used to hide or flash something, says Penn Jillette, costar of Penn & Teller: Bullshit! But magicians know this vulnerability and won’t sell the seat without endless questions to make sure you’re not a mole for a competitor. So stay strong and know your cover. You’re from Wichita. You’re in for the weekend. You really wanted to see C?line but she was sold out. Practice it. Learn it. Be it.

. . . Sit at a Conference Table for a Meeting.

Head of the table, farthest from the door. The boss will sit in the power position: in the middle, facing the door. He can easily see you and you can easily see him — and everyone’s reactions — without being obvious or aggressive, says Lillian D. Bjorseth, author of Breakthrough Networking. Stay on the fast track with good body language. Keep your hands on the table to show that you’re open. Take notes to show that you’re engaged. And lean forward slightly to show that you’re interested.

. . . Break Up with Your Girlfriend.

Her kitchen table, 8 p.m., Friday. Don’t take her out to dinner to cushion the blow; for this blow there can be no cushioning. The news will hurt. Just be kind and don’t waver. Her kitchen table allows you to sit but lacks all intimacy. She’s on her turf, so she can react any way she wants, kick you out and retain her dignity, and have all her comforts around if she loses it, says Laurie Frankel, author of It’s Not Me . . . It’s YOU! And Can We Not Be Friends? After dinner allows minimal time until she tries to go to bed, and Friday allows maximum time to regain her composure before putting on her work face. In total, the interaction should take no more than 20 minutes — enough time to apologize and tell her that you’ve enjoyed being with her but your feelings aren’t as strong as they were, but not enough time to crack and start giving unhelpful details.

. . . Bicycle with Seven Friends.

Third in line. It’s ideal for keeping a rhythm. You’re reaping the benefits of a draft without having to react to everyone’s braking and accelerating. (Quick tip: Pull out of the line and let the wind, rather than the brakes, slow you down for a smoother ride.) Third is also the place to be when it’s raining, to catch minimal wheel spray, says Jonathan Vaughters, a former professional cyclist and the director of Team Slipstream/Chipotle. But don’t bogart the sweet spot. Rotate the lead position: Everyone goes for 1- to 2-minute shifts, and you’ll be able to maintain a faster pace. Best place to try it out: Fredericksburg, Texas. It has a bunch of different routes, and the roads are hilly rather than steep, so the distance, rather than all-out ability, dictates the intensity. And it’s 90 minutes from Austin, a great base camp. Go in April for manageable crowds and temperatures, says Rod Kramer, tour director for Adventure Cycling Association. To stay out of the E.R., go easy on the third day, which is when fatigue hits. Most accidents happen later in the afternoon, so plan a 25-mile morning ride and an afternoon that doesn’t involve ugly shorts. Check out for specific routes and area information.

21 Things I Learned About Being a Guy From The Simpsons

Written by The Bachelor Guy

1. Fantasy vs. Reality:
Marge: Homer, is this how you pictured married life?
Homer: Yeah, pretty much, except we drove around in a van solving mysteries.
Things always seem to play out better in your head. Except in the case of threesomes.

2. Knowledge Needs to be Prioritized:
Homer: How is education supposed to make me feel smarter? Besides, every time I learn something new, it pushes some old stuff out of my brain. Remember when I took that home winemaking course, and I forgot how to drive?
Sports stats, winning poker hands, what goes in a Gimlet? Stored. Her phone number? That’s why God invented speed dial.

3. The Truth:
Homer: Facts are meaningless. You could use facts to prove anything that’s even remotely true!
Fact: This is a universal truth.

4. Women:
Homer: A woman is a lot like a refrigerator. 6 feet tall, 300 pounds … it makes ice.
Don’t forget “provides food…”

5. Compassion for Your Fellow Man:
Homer: Well crying isn’t going to help. Now, you can sit there feeling sorry for yourself or you can eat can after can of dog food until your tears smell enough like dog food until your dog comes back, or you can go out there and find your dog.
Bart: You’re right.
[Gets up and leaves]
Homer: Rats. I almost had him eating dog food.
No matter how bad your buddy is feeling, you’d be remiss if you let an opportunity pass to screw with him while he’s vulnerable.

6. Career Ambitions:
Part one – Homer: You don’t like your job, you don’t strike. You go in every day and do it really half-assed. That’s the American way.

Part two – Bart: I am through with working. Working is for chumps.
Homer: Son, I’m proud of you! I was twice your age when I figured that out.

7. Making an Impression:
Homer: All normal people love meat. If I went to a barbeque and there was no meat, I would say ‘Yo Goober! Where’s the meat!?’. I’m trying to impress people here Lisa. You don’t win friends with salad.

8. Placing Blame:
Homer: Marge, it takes two to lie. One to lie and one to listen.
Remember, no matter what she catches you doing, she’s partly responsible for you doing it.

9. Multitasking:
Homer: It’s not easy to juggle a pregnant wife and a troubled child, but somehow I managed to fit in eight hours of TV a day.
If it’s important, you’ll find time for it.

10. Friendship:
Marge: Homer, a man who called himself “you-know-who” just invited you to a secret “wink-wink” at the “you-know-what”. You are certainly are popular now that you’ve become a Stonecutter.
Homer: Oh, yeah. Beer busts, beer blasts, keggers, stein hoists, AA meetings, beer night. It’s wonderful, Marge. I’ve never felt so accepted in all my life. These people looked deep within my soul and assigned me a number based on the order in which I joined.
Drinking buddies… are there any truer friends a guy can have?

11. Dealing with Problems:
Lenny: There’s nothing like revenge for getting back at people.
Carl: Vengeance isn’t too bad either.

12. Nutrition:
Homer: Lisa, would you like a donut?
Lisa: No thanks. Do you have any fruit?
Homer: This has purple in it. Purple is a fruit.
And ketchup is a vegetable.

13. Necessities:
Homer: Homer no function beer well without.
Either us.

14. Being Prepared:
Barney: Hey, Homer, I’m worried about the beer supply. After this case, and the other case, there’s only one case left.
Never. Run. Low.

15. When Choosing a Place to Go:
Bart: I smell a museum.
Homer: Yeah, good things don’t end with ‘eum,’ they end with ‘mania’ or ‘teria.’

16. Tolerance:
Apu: Please do not offer my god a peanut.
Always be tolerant of other people’s beliefs and religions. Unless they’re hilarious.

17. Winning:
Homer: Son, when you participate in sporting events, it’s not whether you win or lose; it’s how drunk you get.
Just like in college, when drinking ability equaled social status.

18. Recognizing Boundaries:
Homer: Remember that postcard Grandpa sent us from Florida of that Alligator biting that woman’s bottom? That’s right, we all thought it was hilarious. But, it turns out we were wrong. That alligator was sexually harassing that woman.

19. Physical Appearance:
Sea Captain: Yar, I’m not attractive.
To her, personality (and a parrot and peg leg, if necessary) overcomes ugliness.

20. Romance:
Lisa: Mom, romance is dead. It was acquired in a hostile takeover by Hallmark and Disney, homogenized, and sold off piece by piece.
We’ve been telling her this for years…

And finally, the best advice Homer ever gave us –

21. Covering Your Ass:
Homer: I want to share something with you: The three little sentences that will get you through life. Number 1: Cover for me. Number 2: Oh, good idea, Boss! Number 3: It was like that when I got here.

The Best 8 Beverages in the World

Written by Justin Glow

Timothy Ferriss, author of the best-selling book, The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich (read our interview with him here), shares his eight favorite beverages from around the world.

I am a consummate consumer in the literal sense. Beverages, perhaps more than any other indulgence, have fascinated me from my first sip of Pocari Sweat in Japan. From Brazil to Zimbabwe, each locale has its superstar drink, and some are as defining of the culture as the people themselves. Here are my top 8 beverages in the world:

#8. Paulaner Kellerbier (Munich, Germany)

Paulaner is one of the six main breweries in Bavaria, and their incredible kellerbier is the only beer in the world that I love. I generally hate beer, but this is as pure as snow and as smooth as silk. It’s a good thing, too, as bottled water is more expensive than brewskies in Munich.

#7. Tanzanian Peaberry Coffee (Tanzania)

Tanzanian peaberry coffee beans, freshly brewed with a simple Krup machine, are near perfect for curing AM grogginess. The only close competitor for early-morning favorites would be Kenya AA coffee, which ups the caffeine but sacrifices some flavor. The former is more elegant, the latter more brute force.

#6. Portuguese Green Wine (Portugal)

Vinho verde, so named for the ripeness and not the color, is sweet and refreshing, perfect for a hot and humid early evening in Lisbon. If you don’t like fruity wines — think Zinfandel — you might be better off trading green wine for a drier Napa Valley Pinot Noir.

#5. Pocari Sweat (Tokyo, Japan)

Not to be confused with the always amusing Calpis Water, Pocari Sweat is the post-exercise darling of Japan. Clear and less sugar-laden than Gatorade, it rehydrates without causing stomach upset and helps you recover from the oppressive heat in a heartbeat.

#4. Acai (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)

Acai, an Amazonian berry, can be found on any beach in Rio. Generally served with a dash of guarana syrup for caffeine and a guaranteed sugar rush, it looks like purple frozen yogurt and is delicious with a bit of granola or banana on top. Just keep an ear open for “acai, acai, acaiiiiiiii!” and look for tan men carrying coolers on their hips or heads.

#3. Long Jin Cha Green Tea (Hangzhou, China)

The famous “dragon well” tea of the western lake district is well known for good reason. It is one of the top 10 best-regarded teas in China and delivers a beautiful combination of lightness, mild taste, and immediate alertness.

#2. Cold Mugicha Barley Tea (Tokyo, Japan)

Mugicha is the anti-heat weapon of choice for millions of Japanese and Koreans. It has a strong flavor, but the few sessions it takes to acclimate and appreciate this unique drink is well worth it. It improves circulation and, in so doing, helps decrease body temperature more than simple ice water. A delicious but acquired taste.

#1. Yerba Mate (Buenos Aires, Argentina)

Consumed from a gourd, and replete with a straw that strains the leaves for you, yerba mate is the food of the gods. It contains three stimulants (caffeine like coffee, theophylline like green tea, and theobromine like cocoa) and provides an extended increase in mental performance without a subsequent crash. I love “Cruz de Malta” brand, and I credit this beverage with producing my first book. Pura vida!


German Riesling or real Thai Red Bull? Mexican horchata or Panamanian passionfruit? What is your favorite liquid Epicurean delight?

Timothy Ferriss is author of the #1 Wall Street Journal and NY Times bestseller, The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich

The Top Ten Lies Blockbuster Video Tells Their Customers

Written by Anthony Burch

I worked for Blockbuster Video for the better part of six months. I was used at several different stores as a shift manager, and had to deal with many, many different kinds of customers. While the job was criminally easy at times, I came to despise the job, the corporation, and the customers who gave it money.

As a way of exorcising the demons in my video rental past, I now present my completely unbiased and totally honest list of the ten biggest lies Blockbuster Video tells their customers.

10. “Sorry, I can’t do that”

If you tell a Blockbuster employee to credit something off your account, or change your payment method after he’s already confirmed it, or one of any number of irritating special requests one could possibly make to an employee, he will more than likely tell you that he is sorry, but the computer system will not allow him to do that.

This is untrue.

While Blockbuster still uses a Point of Sale computer system that is literally more than twenty years old (abbreviated, appropriately enough, to “P.O.S.”), it still allows the average BB clerk to do pretty much anything that could conceivably need to be done. The reason for his refusal to comply with your request is relatively simple: he is personally angry at your stupidity or dishonesty (keeping a videogame out for six days, then coming back and demanding a refund because it didn’t have an instruction manual) and feels it should not be positively reinforced.

No matter what your problem is, the average BB clerk can, technically, solve it – but the more complicated it is, the less he or she will actually want to. Hypothetically, refusing a customer any sort of service would be a no-no in the world of customer service, but given that an average BB computer looks like some sort of hacker workstation to the average citizen (blue screens, no mice, keys that make a satisfyingly loud noise when they are punched) , the Blockbuster employee is easily able to blame everything he can’t or won’t do on the computer system. Hopefully, the average consumer will not realize the full extend of what the POS system can do, and will have no choice but to accept the employee’s assertion that it is the computer, and not the employee, that is being unhelpful – which leads us straight into number 9.

9. “The computers lock down five minutes before closing time – we can’t do anything about it”

I heard this lie from the coolest manager I ever worked with – a guy with a vanity license plate reading “WOOKIEE” and a son with the middle name “Vader.” He hated customers even more than I did, and he used the above lie as a foolproof way of ending the night early. It is, of course, total bullshit, but it’s a damned good lie.

Promising that the computers will automatically lock down sounds absurd enough to be true, and technical enough to dissuade the unwashed masses from questioning it further. Also, the customers are forced to action: if you don’t hurry the fuck up and find a movie that will fit whatever mood you’re in at 1:00 in the morning, the system will shut down and you won’t get anything. The customers leave faster, the store closes earlier (thus preventing possible last-minute robberies), and the staff get to go home sooner. This lie, all things considered, contributes to a win-win-win situation.

8. “Sorry, the restroom is broken”

Seriously, it’s not. The restroom is unhygienic, disused, and probably caked in several layers of bodily fluids, but it is still technically functional. The reason BB staff lock their restrooms and tell customers the plumbing is broken is because the restroom is the one place in the entire store where the staff cannot see you.

As a result of this fact, restrooms are the perfect place to steal shit: during my time at Blockbuster, thieves often grabbed DVDs or videogame hardware, stuffed them into their pants, and entered the bathroom. Inside, they literally had all the time they wanted to remove the numerous security strips and magnetic locks affixed to every piece of merchandise.

One female customer in particular took her baby into the restroom with her and removed the packaging for an Xbox 360 controller, a new DVD copy of Gridiron Gang, and a copy of InStyle before stuffing all three items into her purse. Everyone working the shift that night obviously knew what the woman had done, but we were powerless to stop her thanks to lie number seven:

7. “Theft is bad”

Like many other corporate chains (Target and Wal-mart come to mind), Blockbuster must appear to despise shoplifting in all its shapes and forms, whilst doing pretty much nothing to stop it.

If you stuff eighteen DVDs, a Grand Theft Auto strategy guide, and a box of Red Vines into a backpack and walk out, congratulations – you’ve just committed the perfect crime. Even if the metal detector by the door goes off on your way out, you’re fine. Even if the security camera catches your face, you’re fine. Even if DVDs are literally poking out of your dungarees at the feet and waist, and even if every step you make is punctuated by the loud, repeated clapping of plastic case against plastic case, and even if an employee personally comes up to you and asks to see all the items you are carrying, once you leave the store you’ll still spend the rest of your arrest-free night watching your stolen copy of Red Dawn.

Blockbuster employees are trained not to stop, accuse, or pursue criminals, no matter what. This is partially for legal reasons (if a Blockbuster employee accuses a thief of stealing as per company policy and the thief shoots him, Blockbuster can be held accountable), but partially because Blockbuster doesn’t want to waste its time getting in battles with every two-bit pickpocket in the US. In the same way that videogame companies tend not to crack down on pirates, so too does Blockbuster ignore theft. Literally the only situation in which a Blockbuster employee can take any action against a thief is if the thief confesses to attempting to steal something. The BB theft response system quite literally punishes honesty – if someone admits to having stolen something, the employee is to immediately call the police and wait with the thief until their arrival, at which point said thief will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

Yeah, that‘ll fucking teach him to fess up and apologize.

6. “Sorry, we don’t have that movie – I’ll call the other store and check if they have it”

There’s nobody on the other line, dude. Yeah, you saw me look up the phone number for another store, and you probably watched me dial some numbers, but I actually just called my cell phone. You might think I’m talking to another Blockbuster employee over at 19th Avenue and Union Hills, but I’m just speaking over the sound of my voicemail message, making occasional pauses to heighten the realism before disappointedly sighing, hanging up, and pronouncing, “Nah, I guess they don’t have it. Sorry.”

If you’d asked for a better movie I probably would have really checked, but you didn’t, so I didn’t.

5. “Yeah, we’re big movie buffs”

While under the employ of the Blockbuster Corporation, I worked at no less than six different stores in the greater Phoenix area. And in all my time, I did not run into a single store manager who had seen any of the following movies:

-City of God

-Fight Club

-The Wild Bunch

-Gone with the Wind

-Citizen Kane



On my first day, my store manager asked me what my favorite movie was. After responding, “Blade Runner” and watching her nod in faux-understanding, I asked her what her favorite movie was. She replied, “Rumor Has It.”

In retrospect, I should have quit right there.

When I later asked her why she hadn’t seen any movies of historical or artistic significance, she used these exact words:

“Gas station attendants don’t need to know how to work an oilrig, do they?”

No, but they do need to know the goddamned difference between unleaded and diesel. Jesus.

4. “No, I won’t write down stuff you say to me and then repost it on the Internet”

“Did you like Terminator 3?” -An employee
“Uh, maybe if I’d never seen Terminator 1 or 2.” -Me
“What? You didn’t-“
“You’re talking about comparing a decent action movie to two of the best action movies ever made.”
“What’s my favorite action movie? That’s a good question, I’ve never thought about that.”
“?I didn’t ask-“
“Probably Blade 2.”

“Is it possible to understand Road House 2 even if I haven’t seen the original?” -A customer

“-Are you from Pakistan?”- 50 year old, balding customer with glasses and a pedo-smile
“I-what?” -Me
“Your ethnicity, are you from Pakistan?”
“Uh, sort of.”
“Oh, I thought so. You ever thought about modelling?”
“You’ve got a real face for it.”
“-Yeah, my son in law does it. Makes a pretty good living off it. You’ve got a face for it, I can tell you.”
“Uh, if you need anything else, let me-“
“-And you don’t have to be gay to do it, either.

“Is this Final Fantasy Seven? The one with the V, and the two lines?” -An employee

3. “There are no late fees”

Perhaps the biggest marketing move in Blockbuster’s history has been the so-called abolishment of late fees. While, technically, there is no longer a service charge referred to as a “late fee” at any Blockbuster store on the planet, there are plenty of other small fees and price changes to make up for it.

Firstly, rentals themselves are now more expensive than ever: in Arizona, a movie rental costs 5 bucks, and a game rental costs 9. In states like California or New York, I assume some sort of first-born bartering system is used.

Secondly, there is a late fee if you keep a movie a week past its suggested due date: the $1.25 charge is referred to as a “restocking fee,” but trust me – it’s a late fee. There is nothing in the process of returning a movie from the night drop to the store shelves that costs even the smallest amount of money; if the $1.25 is truly financing “restocking,” I have to wonder where that money is going. I sure as hell didn’t see any of it.

Thirdly, the tradeoff with late fees if that if you keep a movie for a month past its suggested due date, you have to buy it. This is probably the most reasonable aspect of the no late fees policy, and is therefore the one frequently argued against by deadbeats who refuse to return copies of Fast and the Furious 2 within a reasonable period of time.

2. “Blockbuster Online is better than Netflix”

Every Blockbuster Online mailer counts as a coupon for a free instore rental. It’s a pretty good deal, admittedly, but the problem is that it’s a wholly temporary one: while Blockbuster Online’s current monthly fee is pretty much on par with Netflix’s, it won’t stay like that for long.

Blockbuster Online was created solely to steal Netflix’s online rental idea and drive them out of business: as such, if/when Netflix is bankrupted by Blockbuster Online’s Bauman-esque ripoff artistry, Blockbuster Online will raise its prices significantly, and probably get rid of the whole “free instore rental” thing. Thanks to the combination of No Late Fees and the Blockbuster Online free rentals, the BB Corporation is losing money – once their main source of competition is gone, they’ll do whatever necessary to get that cash back.

1. “Yeah, that’s a really good movie”

If there is only one thing you need to know about Blockbuster, it is this: the movie you are renting, or the movie that was suggested to you by an overweight female clerk who has had two husbands, one child, and half a dozen miscarriages, will not be good.

The fault for this does not completely lie on either employee or customer, but weighs equally on both parties.

As mentioned earlier, Blockbuster employees, for the most part, know next to nothing about movies. As such, their recommendations will be at best useless and at worst harmful: whichever new release has the prettiest cover will likely be the one immediately recommended by the manager on duty.

On the other hand, the vast majority of those who frequent the shelves of Blockbuster Video are slobbering, slack-jawed idiots who harbor no true love for cinema, no desire to probe deep questions about life, and no ability to enjoy something that might require the slightest bit of effort. In one respect, I can understand this: these people have worked hard during their day jobs – why shouldn’t be allowed to relax and escape with some harmless Hollywood entertainment?

The problem arises in what they watch. Relax and escape, yeah, but at the very least adopt some goddamned standards. If you’re looking for a comedy, don’t rent Phat Girlz. If you want a drama, don’t get anything with Ben Affleck. And for the love of God, do not rent something just because it is new.

I literally cannot tell you how many people come to Blockbuster on a daily basis, just so they can rent the new releases. Not because they’re interested in them. Not because they look good. Simply because they are new.

And while they spend their time and money on dreck like Behind Enemy Lines II and The Break-Up, these people literally refuse to anything that:

-Was made before 1995

-Comes from a different country, even an English-speaking one

-Might be mentally or emotionally disturbing

-Has subtitles

-Has voice-over narration (I literally talked to a customer who didn’t like any movie that had voice-over narration: that’s like fucking saying you don’t like movies with a number in the title)

Of course, there are always those precious few customers who actually want something different, but they are extremely rare. And by the time they show up, most Blockbuster employees are already burned out: my first few months on the job, I tried to expand people’s movie vocabulary by exposing them to unusual fare like Oldboy, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, Brick, and so on, but my efforts were all for naught. The things I recommended to customers were either immediately returned to the shelf once I left their field of vision, or watched on a whim and then endlessly complained about (“the pedophilia stuff in Hard Candy was so gross that I had to turn it off after ten minutes”). It literally gets to the point where, as an employee, you don’t want to share good films with customers because, in the words of one of my old co-workers, “they don’t deserve them.”

This attitude snowballs into a general loathing of all Blockbuster customers, and then all consumers, and then all of humanity in general.

Long story short, I was fired from Blockbuster for calling a female customer a “cunt.”

She was totally acting like one, though.

Top 10 GMail tweaks

Written by

gmail tweaks

For its integrity, features and functionality, GMail is the leading webmail application worldwide. For the same reasons, Firefox tends to be the most used browser out there.

As you well know, Firefox can be customized to its full, with the help of plugins and scripts. For example, GreaseMonkey is a Mozilla Firefox extension that allows users to install scripts that make on-the-fly changes to specific web pages. As the Greasemonkey scripts are persistent, the changes made to the web pages are executed every time the page is opened, making them effectively permanent for the user running the script.

Greasemonkey can be used for adding new functionality to web pages, fixing rendering bugs, combining data from multiple webpages, and numerous other purposes. Well written Greasemonkey scripts can integrate changes so well that their additions appear to be natural parts of the web page. I?m going to present the most useful 10 plugins and tweaks to be used with GMail.

Make sure you run decent versions of Firefox (You can also download
)and GreaseMonkey before you try to install or run anything shown here. I?ve also included some screenshots of the effects those scripts have on your GMail, so make sure you check them out by clicking the thumbnail to see the large picture.

1. A super clean/white GMail interface
Install instructions | Known issues | Understanding the script
Gmail Super Clean was made to simplify the way Gmail looks. It?s got quite a few customization options. You can change the logo, fonts, show/hide ads and many more, using the User script commands on Greasemonkey. The script is also made public on and statistics show that almost 50,000 people installed it.

gmail white gmailwhite2 gmailwhite3

2. GMail logo changer
Install / View source
By default, the upper left GMail logo is this. If you got tired of it, this script is exactly what you?re looking for. It will allow you to change the logo to an image of your own, exactly as it happens on the e-mail service from Google Apps.


3. Folders in GMail

Installation Instructions

This is perfect for you if you liked the folder-like sorting options in the other e-mail solutions, but you rather stick to GMail. Now you can have them both by installing this plugin. Have a look at the before-after timeline and if you think it?d work for you, go ahead and try out the script. If you?re not convinced yet, here?s how it works:

before labels
labels after

If you have two labels, Mum and Dad and you want them to be subfolders of Family, you need to create three labels: Family, Family\Mum and Family\Dad. In the left you can see how the labels will look before the script, and on the right you can see how the script interprets them. Neat, huh? This script is available for IE7 and Opera9, with the help of additional plugins similar to GreaseMonkey.

4. One click conversations
Plugin page | Install the script
One Click Conversations is a java script for enhancing GMail.
GMail view must be set to ?standard with chat? in order for this script to work. It adds an icon just to the left of sender name in list view and in message view so you can access it easily. Clicking on icon takes you to the recent conversations with that user. Rolling over icon in message view pops up menu, as found via the ?quick contacts? panel.

As you can see, it adds one click access to recent conversations with each of your contacts. The demo below should explain things succinctly. Have a look and see exactly what I?m talking about.

5. HTML signatures (multiple signatures if you want)
View script source / Install script
HTML in GMail signatures has been an issue since the service was started. Some of us use multiple e-mail addresses, therefore we need multiple signatures, and some of them need to be HTML compatible. I noticed this plugin also fixes the signature placement bug. By default, your signature was placed at the end of the message, no matter if you were composing a new one or replying to an existent one. In the second situation, your reply would have been on top and the signature was placed to the bottom, thus being separated.

The plugin actually creates a link that you can click to insert an HTML signature into a GMail message. Like I said, it supports multiple signatures. Just add a variable at the top that has your HTML in it. Then add that variable name to the array ?sigs?. If you have one signature, just make sure that one variable name is in the array. If you have more than one, it will prompt you (on insertion) for which one. Otherwise it just inserts it.

6. GMail + Google Calendar
View source / Install script

This embeds Google Calendar to Gmail by adding a ?Calendar? link. The position of the calendar link can be changed by editing the source and modifying the CALENDAR_LINK_POSITION constant (if you don?t see the constant, please update the script). Currently it can only be moved from before the Inbox link to after the Trash link. I?ll try to add more flexibility later.

If you want the Calendar menus aligned at the right of the screen, update the script and edit the source. Check the CALENDAR_STYLES part, you?ll see some commented code, just uncomment it. However this isn?t very useful because the popups for Quick Add and the Calendars settings will appear out of the screen, I hope to fix this in the near future.

7. GMail conversation preview
View source / Install script
The script allows you to get a preview bubble when you right click ANY conversation in GMail. It addresses the broken Archive and Trash features. Also contains some personalizations including a Subject bar below the link toolbar.

8. Google Reader integration
View source / Install script
This doesn?t need a description. It?s just a nice integration of Google Reader, along with other author implementations I?m going to mention below.

*Moved Collapse Gmail link to under Compose Mail
* Removed unnessasary spaces
* Added Google Reader favicon to Reader link
* Added a Launch Reader link to open Google Reader in a new window
* Added a Home link
* Made Reader?s labels collapsable

9. GMail label colors
View source / Install script | Official webpage
Ignoring the folders vs. labels debate for now I always wondered why labels in Gmail cannot be color-coded. This script adds that functionality, since it turns out to be very useful (if used sparingly, otherwise too many colors can get overwhelming). To specify a color, simply rename a label to ?Labelname #color? (e.g. to make the label ?Foo? be red, use ?Foo #red? and to make the label ?Bar? be orange, use ?Bar ##d52?). It works in a similar way to the conversation bubble script, in that it overrides the JavaScript function through which Gmail receives data. It has to jump through some hoops to avoid the HTML escaping that Gmail does; intrepid Greasemonkey hackers may want to look at the source.

labels color

10. GMail macros
View source / Install script | Official webpage
Gmail Macros adds additional keyboard shortcuts to Gmail. Some are obvious (and have been done by other scripts) such as ?t? for move to trash and ?r? for mark as read. However, the author strove to provide a bit more functionality. For example, ?p? both marks a message as read and archives it, when you really don?t want to read something (the ?p? stands for ?purge?). Additionally, the shortcuts can be easily customized by editing the HANDLERS_TABLE constant. More than one action can be chained together by providing a list of action codes (which are contained in the script and were extracted by looking at the generated ?More Actions?? menu in Gmail). The other novel feature is for label operations. Pressing ?g? brings up a Quicksilver-like display that allows you to begin typing in a label name to go to it (special names like ?Inbox? and ?Trash? work too). Similarly, pressing ?l? allows you to label a conversation with the label of your choosing.

That was it. The world of GreaseMonkey scripts is fairly large, but that?s a good thing. There?s plenty of GMail plugins to choose from, in order to make your life easier and enhance your GMail experience.

Origin of Familiar Phrases

Written by Alex

The following is reprinted from Uncle John’s Absolutely Absorbing Bathroom Reader


Meaning: Ask someone a question they can’t answer
Origin: Actually refers to tree stumps. “Pioneers built their houses and barns out of logs ? and they frequently swapped work with one another in clearing new ground. Some frontiersmen would brag about their ability to pull up big stumps, but it wasn’t unusual for the boaster to suffer defeat with a stubborn stump.” (From I’ve Got Goose Pimples, by Marvin Vanoni)


Meaning: Spend a wild night out, usually involving drinking
Origin: “This colorful term ? probably originated on the frontier. In the nineteenth century the section of town where brothels and saloons were located was known as the ‘red light district.’ So a group of lusty cowhands out for a night on the town might very well take it into their heads to make the whole town red.” (From Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins Vol. 3, by William and Mary Morris)


Meaning: Keep something away, albeit temporarily
Origin: “A stave is a stick of wood, from the plural of staff, staves. In the early seventeenth century staves were used in the ‘sport’ of bull-baiting, where dogs were set against bulls. [If] the dogs got a bull down, the bull’s owner often tried to save him for another fight by driving the dogs off with a stave.” (From Animal Crackers, by Robert Hendrickson)


Meaning: Do something with little or no preparation
Origin: “Originally comes from the theater. The Oxford English Dictionary suggests that it refers to the hurried study of the role in the wings of the theater.” (From The Whole Ball of Wax, by Laurence Urdang)


Meaning: Carefully and thoughtfully consider something
Origin: In previous centuries, it was customary for judges to put a cap on before sentencing criminals. Because judges were respected thinkers, it was referred to as a “thinking cap” (From Gordon’s Book of Familiar Phrases)


Meaning: Stretch the truth or meaning of words or rules, deceive or trifle with someone
Origin: This term dates from the 16th century. It comes from a game called “fast and loose,” which was played at fairs. Operators rolled up a strap and left a loop hanging over the edge of a table. To win, a player had to catch the loop with a stick before the strap was unrolled. But they never won. Cheating operators rolled it up in such a way that the feat was impossible. (From Have a Nice Day – No Problem! by Christine Ammer)


Meaning: Repair badly
Origin: “In old England, bodgers were peasant chairmakers ? They produced, by traditional handicraft methods, simple and serviceable objects. When chairmaking was transformed into high art, the bodgers was correspondingly downgraded to ‘bodge’ or ‘botch,'” which came to mean an item or service of poor quality. (From To Coin a Phrase, by Edwin Radford and Alan Smith)


Meaning: Broke; have all of your belongings in a pawn shop
Origin: Comes from the Old West. In a common gambling card game called “faro,” “the last card [to be played] was called the hocketty card. It was said to be in hocketty or in hock. When a player bet on a card that ended up in hock he was himself in hock, at risk of losing his bets.” (From The Whole Ball of Wax, by Laurence Urdang)


Meaning: Try a different strategy
Origin: “Sailing ships could not move directly into the wind but had to tack – zigzag back and forth with the wind first on one side, then on the other. If a skipper approaching harbor found that his vessel couldn’t make the harbor mouth on the starboard tack, he was obviously on the wrong tack, and would have to take the other (port) tack.” (From Loose Cannons and Red Herrings, by Robert Claiborne)


Meaning: Escape punishment
Origin: “In the thirteenth century, scot was the word for money you would pay at a tavern for food and drink, or when they passed the hat to pay the entertainer. Later, it came to mean a local tax that paid the sheriff’s expenses. To go scot-free literally meant to be exempted from paying this tax.” (From How Does Olive Oil Lose its Virginity?, by Bruce Tindall and Mark Watson)


Meaning: A hidden cache of money used for illegal or corrupt political purposes
Origin: “Derived from Scandinavian words meaning ‘slops,’ this phrase is derived from the nineteenth-century shipboard practice of boiling up large pots of pork and other fatty meats. The fat that rose to the top of the kettles was stored in vats and then sold to soap and candle makers. The money received from the sale of the ‘slush’ was used for the crew’s comfort and entertainment.” (From Eatioms, by John D. Jacobson)


Meaning: Humble someone who is self-important and conceited
Origin: “The expression probably originally referred to a ship’s flags. These were raised or lowered by pegs – the higher the position of the flags, the greater the honor. So to take someone down a peg came to mean to lower the esteem in which that person is held.” (From Get to the Roots, by Martin Manser)


Meaning: Buying something sight unseen
Origin: “The poke was a small bag (the words pouch and pocket derive from the same roots), and the pig was a small pig. As related in Thomas Tusser’s Five Hundredth Good Pointes of Husbandrie (1580), the game was to put a cat in the poke and try to palm it off in the market as a pig, persuading the buyer that it would be best not to open the poke because the pig might get away.” (From The Dictionary of Cliches, by James Rogers)


Meaning: A risky, precarious situation
Origin: “Dates back to the days of stagecoaches, whose drivers were often intensely competitive, seeking to charge past one another, on narrow roads, at grave danger to life and limb. If the vehicle’s wheels became entangled, both would be wrecked; if they were lucky, the wheels would only touch and the coaches could still go.” (From Loose Cannons and Red Herrings, by Robert Claiborne)


Meaning: Leave work for the day
Origin: “[This phrase] originated in the days of slave galleys. To keep the oarsmen rowing in unison, a drummer beat time rhythmically on a block of wood. When it was time to rest or change shifts, he would give a special knock, signifying that they could knock off.” (From Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins Vol.2, by William and Mary Morris)


Meaning: Does that sound familiar?
Origin: “Old-fashioned carnivals and amusement parks featured shooting galleries, in which patrons were invited to test their marksmanship by shooting at a target – often with a bell at the center: if something was right on target, it rang the bell. Similarly, to say that something ‘doesn’t ring a bells’ means that it doesn’t strike any ‘target’ (evoke any response) in your mind.” (From Loose Cannons and Red Herrings, by Robert Claiborne)


Meaning: Avoid punishment for wrongdoing
Origin: “It is likely that this slang Americanism originated in anther expression, take the rap, in which rap is slang for ‘punishment,’ facetiously, from a ‘rap on the knuckles.’ One who takes the rap for someone else stands in for the other’s punishment. Beat the rap ? often carries with it the connotation that the miscreant was actually guilty, though acquitted” (From The Whole Ball of Wax, by Laurence Urdang)


Meaning: Be honest
Origin: Comes from card playing. “Board is an old word for table.” To drop your hands below the table could, of course, be interpreted as trying to cheat – by swapping cards, for example. “But if all play was above board this was impossible” (From To Coin a Phrase, by Edwin Radford and Alan Smith)

Myth of America’s Rags-to-Riches Presidents

Written by Jonathan Zimmerman

Almost All Grew Up Wealthy; That Doesn’t Mean They Couldn’t Serve the Less Fortunate

presidents and money

Most presidents had large personal wealth when they assumed office.

Rudy Giuliani received $11 million last year in speaking fees alone. John McCain is worth between $20 million and $32 million, most of it earned the old-fashioned way: He married into it. John Edwards, a former trial lawyer, has assets of about $62 million. But they’re all paupers compared to Mitt Romney, founder of a private equity firm, whose personal fortune is somewhere between $190 million and $250 million.

So what else is new?

As the presidential primary contests heat up, we’re being treated to yet another round of “expos?s” about the personal wealth of America’s presidential candidates. And no one has received more attention than Edwards, the antipoverty crusader with the $400 haircut and a new $4.2 million home. “What Would Jesus Do With John Edwards’s Mansion?” Fox News anchor Brit Hume quipped, in a typical jibe.

These attacks reflect a curious American blend of romanticism and cynicism. On the romantic side, Americans like to imagine that their leaders once came from log cabins and other modest circumstances. In the cynical vein, meanwhile, they presume that a wealthy candidate could not — or would not — fight for the less fortunate.

But neither claim holds up to historical scrutiny. Despite the rags-to-riches mythology, American presidents have almost always come from the wealthiest sector of society. And despite their riches, some of these leaders have spoken valiantly and effectively for the poor.

Consider the first U.S. president, George Washington, who grew up on a plantation with 49 slaves and more than 10,000 acres. After he died, biographers tried to paint him as a humble yeoman farmer. But during his presidency, Forbes magazine reports, Washington would have made its list of the 400 richest Americans!

Ditto for Andrew Jackson, regarded as America’s first common-man president. Jackson grew up on an estate in South Carolina with slaves and a gristmill. He also attended a private academy, another mark of wealth at the time.

In the “Tippecanoe and Tyler too” campaign of 1840, William Henry Harrison swept into the White House by pretending that he had lived in an actual log cabin. He hadn’t. Like his running mate, John Tyler, Harrison belonged to the elite crust of Chesapeake society known as the First Families of Virginia. Harrison’s father inherited six plantations and served as Virginia’s governor during the American Revolution.

Even Abraham Lincoln, who routinely touted his youthful poverty, was relatively well-to-do. At the time of Lincoln’s birth, his father owned two farms of 600 acres along with several town lots, livestock and horses. Five years later, Thomas Lincoln was listed among the richest 15 percent of property owners in his Kentucky community.

So there’s nothing new in the personal wealth of today’s presidential aspirants. Even the humblest of the major candidates, Barack Obama, scraped by on a $1 million income last year.

What is new, however, is the cynical idea that wealth will somehow infect a leader’s political positions. If you come from serious money, the argument goes, you can’t really represent people who don’t.

Wrong again. Think of Franklin D. Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy, who both inherited vast sums. They felt that their riches gave them a special responsibility to aid others.

As a sophomore at Harvard, Roosevelt wrote a history thesis about his own family’s “democratic spirit” in the face of enormous wealth. “They have felt … that being in a good position, there is no excuse for them if they did not do their duty by the community,” he asserted.

As president, Roosevelt would face charges of class treason — and, even, of communism — from his fellow patricians, who worried that his New Deal policies would cut into their affluence.

“They are unanimous in their hatred for me,” Roosevelt declared in 1936, “and I welcome their hatred.”

So it’s fair to say that plenty of rich Americans didn’t give a hoot about the poor. As Roosevelt’s example shows, however, it hardly follows that a vast personal fortune prevents you from identifying with people less fortunate. Sometimes it works in reverse: Your wealth makes you more sensitive to the plight of the infirm, the homeless, and the unemployed.

So why do Americans continue to believe that their leaders come from the salt of the earth? At its root, the log-cabin legend expresses a basic myth about America itself: that anyone can make it here. Work hard, and you can become whatever you want. Even president.

That’s obviously false. But it’s equally false to think that the economic status of a leader will determine his or her attitudes toward wealth, poverty, and everything else. Come primary time, then, let’s look less at our candidates’ homes and haircuts and more at their platforms and policies. And let’s beware confusing one with the other.

Jonathan Zimmerman teaches history and education at New York University. He is the author of “Innocents Abroad: American Teachers in the American Century.”

The 10 Best Simpsons Endings Of All Time

Written by Dan Hopper

I obviously wasn’t going to allow Simpsons Movie week to slip by without doing some kind of Top 10 list, but because I wouldn’t be able to do a favorite episodes / jokes / characters list without deliberating for nine more years and making a list of fifty, I’ve decided to take a look at some of the funniest, most touching, and most memorable endings in the history of the show that I’ve spent more hours of my life watching than I have sleeping.

Scorpio10. You Only Move Twice (Season 8)
The Hank Scorpio / James Bond parody remains a favorite episode of many, despite being perhaps the strangest episode in the show’s history to that point. The ending, in which Homer receives the gift of the hapless Denver Broncos (instead of the Dallas Cowboys) from his villainous but gracious former employer is a fittingly bizarre cap on the story, made funnier still by the fact that the mysteriously motivated Broncos went on to win back-to-back Superbowls in the years right after the Simpsons jab.

9. Mom And Pop Art (Season 10)
At some point around Season 9, the show developed an inxplicable fascination for absurd, sideways punchlines to lead into the credits, often at the expense of an episode’s worth of humanity or meaning, but the episode in which Homer accidentally becomes an artist, one of the best newer episodes (it’s now 8 years old, but that’s still how I perceive the seasons) was a delightful exception. After failing at all intentional attempts at art, Homer manages to flood Springfield and make it into a mini-Venice, making the townspeople proud and Milhouse less embarrassed for wearing flood pants, and the episode fades out with Homer and Marge lovingly embracing on their rooftop to the song “Arrivederci Roma.”

Otto Show8. The Otto Show (Season 3)
This rare Otto-centric tale from Season Three is about as good as the side character-based episodes get; the writers develop Otto, they squeeze pretty much every joke out of him they can, then they conclude the episode with a renewed appreciation for the ordinarily minor character, as the admiring Principal Skinner monologues into the sunset, “Yes, hail to the bus driver? bus driver man.” It’s a cute little exploration of how even the most mundane roleplayers in our lives – school bus drivers, regular bartenders, sea captains, etc. – are sometimes unexpectedly irreplacable.

7. Home Sweet Home-Diddily-Dum-Doodily (Season 7)
In the dramatic conclusion to the frustratingly amusing Child Welfare episode, Homer and Marge rescue Bart and Lisa from a Ned Flanders baptism (and Maggie from a symbolic baptism into the Flanders family), then the four walk off together, confident in their shared imperfections, with Homer laughing at the old paint cans in Flanders’ garage with the pointless insult, “Ha ha, Old Painty-Can Ned!” Not only a terrific new take on the old “we’re a crazy family, but we’re family” idea, but it also perfectly sums up the “no faults whatsoever but you still want to hate him” character of Ned Flanders.

Lisas First Word6. Lisa’s First Word (Season 4)
The hubbub surrounding the show bringing in Elizabeth Taylor to deliver Maggie’s first word sort of overshadowed the episode’s independently touching ending; after a full flashback documenting Marge and Homer’s problems handling baby Bart and Lisa, as well as both children only referring to Homer by his first name, Homer tucks Maggie in and secretly confides, “The sooner kids talk, the sooner they talk back. I hope you never say a word,” after which Maggie manages to formulate the word, “Daddy,” delivered to an empty room, before she falls back asleep. It’s cute enough to make you want to push that first baby lamb out of the way.

5. Treehouse of Horror IV (Season 5)
The Simpsons has always had a flair for the occassional absurd twist, and while the device became trite and lost its impact in the later seasons (what wouldn’t after a damn decade?), there is perhaps no more inane – and yet, weirdly satisfying – turn of events than at the end of the fourth Halloween special, when the entire Simpsons family of vampires converges on Lisa, then they all stop, turn to the camera, and shout “Happy Halloween, everybody!” and the show fades to credits with everyone Lu Lu Lu’ing a tune from “Charlie Brown Christmas.” On any other show, it might have seemed like a cop-out, but in retrospect, can you think of any other way to end a story about vampires? Coast Guard?

Duffless4. Duffless (Season 4)
The reason I have such trouble fully embracing episodes like “Homer’s Phobia” and the Frank Grimes episode is because the character of Homer, while fluctuatingly stupid, lazy, and prone to anger, was never really a fundamentally ‘bad’ person. This fact is never more clearly illustrated than in the episode when Homer gives up drinking for thirty days, then when the thirty days are up, he rushes back to Moe’s out of habit but has second thoughts, and the episode ends with Homer and Marge riding a bike together and duetting “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head.” It’s impressive enough when a show like “The Office” makes people believe that two fake human beings are perfect for one another, but when an animated show can do that?? Groin-grabbingly transcendent.

3. Lisa’s Wedding (Season 6)
The majority of Lisa’s future episode is just a series of (hilarious) gags one after the other, usually involving supporting characters and their terrible future selves. The ending, however, is a complete sucker punch; after being ashamed of her family in front of her future fiancee and struggling to withstand their constant, grating quirks, Lisa ultimately realizes how important her family, for better or for worse, is to her life. The episode returns to the present and fades out on Lisa walking away with Homer, listening with genuine loving enthusiasm at her dad’s stories of eating fudge and riding the teacups.

Stampy2. Bart Gets An Elephant (Season 5)
There’s nothing especially touching or inspiring or meaningful about the ending to this Season Five gem, it’s just simply one of the funniest gags in the show’s history. When Bart’s elephant enters a wildlife refuge and immediately just starts butting all the other elephants, the refuge director explains to Marge, “Some of them act badly because they’ve had a hard life, or have been mistreated? but, like people, some of them are just jerks. Stop that, Mr. Simpson,” then a pan out reveals Homer butting the director with his head for no reason. Rivals the “No HomerS” ending from “Stonecutters” as the best flat-out punchline in the show’s history.

Maggie Makes Three1. And Maggie Makes Three (Season 6)
Through all of Homer’s on-and-off parenting skills throughout the run of the show (and within even this episode), he is never exposed to be more tender and lovable than at the very end of this flashback episode, which also might be my favorite overall episode of all time. If you manage to make it through the ending without tearing up, after Homer has placed photos of his unconditionally beloved third child over the demotivational plaque at his workstation to make it spell “Do It For Her”, and you’re not in a desert somewhere with no moisture left in your body, then you are a more cold-hearted human being than I ever believed this planet could produce.

All right, now I’m tearing up. More favorite Simpsons endings, anyone? Leave ’em in the comments!