Sometimes there are so many interesting (i.e., ridiculous) stories circulating, one must comment. I’ve never been one to hold my keyboard, and having my own blahg means I get to share with unsuspecting readers who accidentally click onto a link expecting something of substance. Aha! Gotcha again!
This morning, fellow blahger (and husband) FC Etier brought a news alert from the Washington Post to my attention. It seems the U.S. Postal Service projects that, over the next ten years, it will suffer major losses. What is major? Two hundred and thirty-eight billion dollars. Correct me if I’m wrong (go ahead, I dare you) but isn’t that in the neighborhood of 24 billion dollars a year? Now, I’m not the brightest ray of sunshine on God’s green earth, but if I figured out that I was going to lose a billion here or there, don’t you think I’d put my billions someplace where they wouldn’t get lost?
I don’t respect money, and I treat it very badly. I wad up dollar bills and stick them in various corners of my backpack, hoping they’ll be there when I need them. I’ve even been known to pull out one of those little envelopes in which the bank teller puts your cash and find a couple of forgotten twenties. If the USPS knows it’s going to lose hundreds of billions of dollars, isn’t it their responsibility to prevent the loss? Or is issuing a press release like saying “oops” in advance? “Okay, we told you we were going to lose a lot of money, and now we have. Don’t blame us.”
One of the things that bugs the heck out of me in profit-speak is the concept of losing money you never had. If the phone company (remember “the phone company”?) made a profit of 70 trillion dollars in 2009, then makes a profit of only 69 trillion in 2010, they will tell us they lost a trillion dollars. How did they lose something they never had? Lower profits don’t equal loss. Are we supposed to worry because they sold a few less calling cards or cell phones this year or gave the big guys really huge bonuses? That “loss” is a good reason to raise prices, though.
If I’m dumb enough to put $50 in a slot machine and I come back with $10, I’ve lost $40. But if I was dumb enough to put $50 in a slot machine last night and came back with $100, and then repeat the event tonight but come back with only $60, I didn’t lose $40 — I won $10, which is $40 less than last night (and probably beat the odds). The point is, if I have a profit, any profit, I haven't lost anything. I've still got my initial investment plus a few bucks for my efforts.
A dear friend of mine would often say, “Figures don’t lie, but liars figure.” Ain’t that the truth? The effrontery of the USPS to tell us they are going to lose an astronomical amount of money! Are we expected to run to their aid, sympathetically volunteering to pay more for services and stamps? Or are they hinting that they want to jump on the bailout wagon? They’d better start jumping now, Obama won’t be president in 2020. Puh-leeeeeze!
In a totally unrelated story, iVillage asked “what do women want?” and the answer was “vampires.” Confidentially, I’ve been a woman all my life. There are two things I think I can say with authority (the authority vested in me by biology): first, there is not one thing that women universally want. I’d like to think that all women want respect and independence, but that’s not true. I know that all women don’t want chocolate because I hate the stuff. Do all women want love? No. Air to breathe? No. Peace and quiet? No. Some women don’t even care about world peace or ending poverty. The second authoritative statement I am ready to make is that all women do not want vampires. There are enough things sucking the life out of us (for example: jobs, men, children, the USPS, other women) already; we don’t want vampires. Oh, yeah sure, the article tells us that women have bought into the vampire-mania currently sweeping the globe. All women? Nope. Not on a bet.
I may be splitting hairs (I don’t have the equipment to split atoms), but statements about “all women” are about as accurate as any other stereotype. I look forward to the day when there is something that all people (regardless of gender) want, and I hope it’s going to be something positive.
When we look further into the story, we find “iVillage reveals the Hollywood actors, characters and scenes that truly made an impact on its vast network of women in 2009, in the first annual iVillage Entertainment Awards. Confirming just how crazy today's women are for vampires, an astounding 87 percent of voters say they would trade their husbands in for a chance to sleep next to Pattinson’s Twilight character Edward Cullen every night.” Apparently, iVillage believes that the voters within “its vast network of women” are a representative sample of all women.
What I find most interesting in this story is that the women are willing to trade their husbands for “a chance” to sleep with Edward Cullen. Somehow we’ve gotten back to the topic of gambling (you know, I put $50 in a slot machine for “a chance” at winning thousands). Perhaps I am taking this too seriously, since no one has a chance of sleeping with Edward Cullen — he exists only in the imagination. However, I find sweeping generalizations made by anyone, other than myself, to be offensive. I don’t profess to know “what women want,” but I do know that I want people to stop using that as a tag-line to get attention.