two cents

My 2 Cents: Jeopardy Champ Arthur Chu

There has been some controversy* over the playing style of current Jeopardy! champion Arthur Chu.  Essentially, instead of the “traditional” method of going top to bottom of a category then moving to the next one, he bounces around the board, seeking out the Daily Double questions, and trying to keep his opponents off-balance.

*And the fact that this is a “controversy” should tell you one of two things:  Life is either pretty good right now if how a guy plays a game show constitutes controversy, or we really need more to do.  Your pick.

I won’t argue that Chu’s style is unconventional, and I guess I could see how jumping from category to category may screw with the concentration of his opponents, but there is one irrefutable fact that nobody has brought up:

Chu’s strategy only works if he controls the board.  If you (as a competitor) don’t want him doing that, there is a simple solution – answer the questions yourself and don’t let him run the game.

My 2 cents: Shopping on Thanksgiving

Over the past few weeks, I’ve seen and heard a lot of criticism aimed at retailers (like Kmart, Toys “R” Us,  and others) who will be open for business on Thanksgiving.  Many people find this horribly offensive and have taken Facebook pledges not to shop on Thanksgiving or to completely boycott stores that are open today.

Your heart is in the right place, even if you are full of crap.

I understand where they are coming from.  Thanksgiving is a holiday where families come together to express their love and appreciation for the blessings they have.  Few people want to miss out on that time together – especially to work a cash register for $8.75 an hour.  Having stores open on Thanksgiving is a textbook example of corporate greed trumping what the employees want.

But the pledges and boycotts are a bunch of hypocritical crap.  No matter how much we believe otherwise, people are going to have to work on Thanksgiving (and other holidays, for that matter).

Obviously, there are the people in jobs that are essential to a safe and civilized society:  police, fire, doctors, nurses, EMTs, snow plow drivers, and our military men and women serving our country.  I don’t see anybody pledging not to dial 911 today because we believe Gladys should be home with her family, so let’s raise a turkey leg in honor of those who simply must work today.

Beyond those core professions, there is another layer of workers in transportation jobs who will be clocking in today.  It’s probably not necessary to have airplanes flying, subways and taxis running, or even have somebody working at that gas station along the interstate – but let’s face it, it sure as hell makes our lives easier.  There are a lot of people who need to work so you can catch that flight back home, or even pay for your unleaded.  But nobody is proposing that we all stay home on Thanksgiving.

Let’s dig deeper.  You’ve pledged to not shop on Thanksgiving.  You vow that you will spend the day enjoying the company of family.  Good for you.  But…what is that in the background?  Is part of your family tradition to watch one of the multiple NFL games being played today?  Were you listening to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on while you were getting the turkey in the oven?

Now, we start to get into the true hypocrisy.  Where is the outrage over the people who have to work so we can have TV programming to watch?   Where is the protest for the reporters, cameramen, sound engineers, and on-air talent?  Or for the ushers, ticket takers, concession stand workers, and beer vendors at the football games?  Those folks have to work just as hard as the retail clerk at Wal-Mart, deal with the same amount of rude jerks, and will spend just as much time away from their families as the guy working retail.  But I guarantee that nobody will turn off the game or the parade because they “believe in family”.

I realize there are hundreds of other businesses and professions that I’ve omitted but the point is still the same:  where is the social media uproar?  Why do we care so much about people being pulled away from their families to work a crappy retail job, but not the crappy job parking cars at AT&T Stadium in Dallas or lugging sodas around Ford Field in Detroit?  Is it because some of us never had any desire to hit the stores on Thanksgiving anyway – or couldn’t go because you were stuck spending the day with your in-laws?  Nah, I’m sure that has nothing to do with it.

So if you wan to do some Christmas shopping or Black Friday bargain hunting today, be my guest.  I won’t judge.  Just remember who has your back this Christmas.


My Two Cents: Making Sense Out of Cents

I’m rolling out a new semi-regular* feature:  My two cents.  Essentially, it will be a way for me to quickly give my opinion or take on a topic currently in the public discussion – or anything else I feel like chiming in on – but without doing a lot of set up or bothering to tie things up in a nice bow.

*Semi-regular = whenever I feel like it; until I get bored with the concept and stop doing it.

two cents pennies


First up:  The cents sign.

My initial thought was to title this as “My 2 (cents)” using the common symbol for cents – a lowercase “c” with a vertical line through it.  But I have absolutely no idea how to type that.  My keyboard has 115 keys, containing a combination of 83 different letters, numbers, and symbols.  But nowhere do I see the cents symbol.  I know that I can type it, (probably using some obscure combination of Shift with maybe an Alt or Ctrl), but without consulting Google, I have no idea what it takes.

Sure, there are ways around it.  You often see people refer to an opinion as their “$0.02” or “.02” but that just isn’t as easy for my simple brain to decipher.  What are you trying to say?  Two dollars?  Two hundredths?  Wouldn’t it be much easier if there was a commonly known symbol to represent cents?  Oh yeah, there is.

Or maybe the cents symbol isn’t so common after all.

So what happened to the cents sign?  Has inflation gotten so bad that almost nothing costs less than a dollar?  Who decided that the cents sign would not have a spot on computer keyboards?  How lowly do you have to be to get edged out by the caret (^) and the vertical line (|)?  It’s sad.  It makes no sense*.

*C’mon, did you think I could get through this without using a cents/sense pun?  Please.

Do they even bother teaching the cents symbol to kids anymore?  Or would a teenager be more likely to read Egyptian hieroglyphics than understand what a c with a slash through it means?

Add the cent sign to the growing list of things that make me feel old.

In case you were curious, you can type a cents symbol by simply(?) typing 0162 on the number pad while holding down the Alt key.  Like such: ¢

Assuming that publishing that symbol doesn’t blow up the internet, I’ll change the title going forward.

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