You Might Be A Loser If...
"Somebody's gotta win, it might as well be you," if you believe the Kentucky Lottery's ads.
Now, the new television ads for the Player's Choice scratch-off ticket continue in the tradition of promising viewers that the lottery is the easy and fun way to
money and happiness, stating that the new game is "where the winning is up to you!" Nice tactic, that, putting the blame for losing on the player.
A visit to the Lottery's web site is instructive (www.kylottery.com). If you're looking for more information on how to play the new game, you have to give the Lottery your name, address, and phone number, "for research purposes only." Don't worry-giving up your privacy might pay off! You'll be entered into a drawing for a package of other Kentucky Lottery merchandise for generously providing this information. Wahoo!
Lotteries are losing propositions all around. The public gives up their hard-earned dollars for longshot odds at winning a pot of money, a pot full of dollars spent by other losers in search of the same payout you're after. The lottery is the most regressive of taxes; study after study has shown that the poor spend disproportionately more of their income on the lottery than the wealthy.
And then there's something blatantly hypocritical about the state of Kentucky not just encouraging, but sponsoring an effort to get the citizens to throw away money (possibly because that's a little more politically palatable than a "real" tax).
Since the money is supposed to go to the schools, some players console themselves with the thought that "at least the five bucks I just squandered on scratch-offs goes toward education." But of the over $1.3 billion the Lottery has paid to the state in eleven years of existence, only $214 million (or about 16.5 percent) has been earmarked for education. The rest is dumped into the general fund, to be used on whatever dubious projects the legislature or governor choose.
This farcical notion of gambling helping education falls right in lock-step with the billboards that greet you whenever you cross the state line- Kentucky: Where Education Pays.
So now it's snakes instead of tornadoes?
Maybe we've had a few slow news days this summer, but does Channel 18 really need to resort to covering news that doesn't even exist?
Two weeks ago, the Big Story was about snakes. An invasion of venomous copperhead snakes into the Bluegrass? That's certainly noteworthy.
Several snakes threatening some imperiled, yet adorable toddlers? Hey, that's got it all.
Even one snake, in a weird place like, say, the mayor's bathroom or Anita Madden's punchbowl, that would have been a major news item.
But the crack news team over at LEX 18 News went with a lead story on a snake that may not have even existed.
A man called animal control regarding what he believed to be a copperhead snake on his property. He reported that he had subdued said snake by konking it on the head with a shovel, and then promptly throwing it over his fence. (The neighbors must love this guy.)
Animal control came out to see the dead snake, to determine if it was in fact a copperhead (dangerous, but rarely deadly), and to remove the corpse.
The snake was nowhere to be found. Oh, the audience got to see a riveting close-up of the bloody spot on the pavement where the alleged konking took place, and the testimony of the alleged konker (who was also allegedly very familiar with many different varieties of snakes) was quite convincing.
The animal control agent pointed out that the milk snake, a non-poisonous slithering reptile, looks quite similar to the more hazardous copperhead, but our intrepid snake wrangler insisted there was a dazed copperhead on the loose around the neighborhood.
Now. Define Big Story.
PBS, back on the reality tip
One would think PBS, home of all that's British, would be far above reality-based, Real World-type programming. In a way, though, PBS pioneered the genre with its series An American Family, which originally aired in 1973. The 12-hour series famously documented the lives of the Loud family of Santa Barbara, California, the crumbling marriage and eventual divorce of the couple, and their son coming out of the closet.
Last month, PBS was at it again. The Bowler family (one of 400 who applied) was chosen to live in a town home in London that had been remodeled to function exactly as it would have in 1900-no electricity, no hot running water, no modern conveniences. Of course, the camera was there to catch every move they made.
Why? Educational value, of course. Lesson plans are offered along with the videos, to teach children about the privations of Victorian life.
It's enough to make one pine for a stodgy Masterpiece Theatre program, or even some Benny Hill reruns.
(Or turn over to CBS for Big Brother, the newest Orwellian outpost in the "reality" genre.)