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20 Questions

1. How come Wesley Snipes, after several years of not paying income taxes is probably going to jail, and Tim Geithner, after several years of not paying some of his income taxes, is rewarded with the position of Treasury Secretary? Shouldn't Kung Fu Wes' at least be offered a cabinet post?

2. Isn't it a great country that we live in, where Joaquin Phoenix can try his hand at rapping, and not get thrown into a bear trap or the lion pen at the zoo for his awful, and apparently fake efforts?

3. Is Britney Spears genuinely crazy and immaturely nasty, or just inconsiderate of her younger fans, for releasing a song titled If You Seek Amy? Say it real fast, and you'll get the innuendo. And consider a line from the chorus: "All the boys and girls want to If You Seek Amy." Tsk, tsk.

4. Speaking of bear traps, why hasn't Britney been thrown in one for making that song?

5. How is it that my anti-media conspiracy theorist buddy lectured me the other day on biased interviews in which the interviewer is an obvious fan of the interviewee, but at the same time applauded the interview Cindy McCain gave to dailybeast.com...in which her own daughter was the interviewer?

6. I don't condone picking on anyone's weight, but why is it that Hollywood types actively crave your adoration when they're svelt, but don't want you to criticize them if they gain an ounce? It's what happens when you put yourself in a glass house.

7. Why have so many national media outlets done full story segments on the Cali college student, who will go unnamed here, who's auctioning off her virginity for cash? We don't do full-feature stories on other prostitutes' first gigs.

8. Why, when people are canceling their cable and satellite TV plans to make budget, is the federal government about to mandate a switch to all-digital TV broadcasting - a move that will require all viewers to buy a digital converter box for their rabbit ears or buy cable and satellite plans?

9. How is it possible that Flo Rida, the sing-songy rapper who made the catchy hit tune Low, defied the one-hit-wonder curse and produced the Dead or Alive-sampled hit Round Round?

10. When will I be recognized as a fashion plate and creative genius?

11. How did I, a former geek - that's right, former - who's now cooler than the other side of the pillow, end up with a hot wife?

12. How did this guy pass the psych exam required by most police departments before they hand out guns and badges?

13. I know he didn't break any laws, but Portland, Ore., Mayor Sam Adams made out with a 17-year-old and then weeks later, when the kid turned 18, began having sex with the kid, and later lied repeatedly about the whole affair. So why does Adams still have a job? And why do I suspect, out of desperation to keep his job, he will eventually start accusing critics of being anti-gay?

14. Have you seen a better example of Karma lately than this headline: Racoon bites off rapist's penis?

15. Can the Black Artists Association member who criticized Michelle Obama for not wearing a black designer's dress to the inaugural balls swear that their wardrobe is populated by clothing exclusively or even mostly made by black designers? If not, can they please not whine about the First Lady's clothes?

16. Is Bart Simpson going to start sending subliminal Scientology recruitment messages across your TV screen?

17. If the death penalty is not made an option in the Casey Anthony murder trial, what message will that send to other inmates on Florida's death row - (allegedly) murder your child as opposed to a stranger and all you get is life?

18. Do Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich's recorded comments about wishing to cash in on Pres. Obama's Senate seat really make him criminal or just dumb?

19. Setting aside partisan political leanings, with all the trouble this country is in right now why is Pres. Obama spending even one second verbally sparring with a talk show host? It's a question I'd also ask, BTW, if we were talking about Pres. McCain and a leftwing talk show host.

20. An aerial acrobat fell to his death yesterday in Arizona. That's an extreme sport. To the people calling for a ban on mixed martial arts and boxing: Are those sports really more dangerous than standing up and doing tricks outside a moving airplane?


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Jeni Hill Ertmer

Some really great questions there, James. Some I too have wondered about myself -maybe that's why I think they are great question cause ya know, "Great minds think alike." Right?
The first one though -things like that totally amaze me! Remember back when Clinton was trying to get his choice for Atty General approved and it seemed every candidate he proposed had a problem due to having had an "illegal" in their employ, not having paid into Social Security (of course) and the person not paying taxes and just a big jumbled up mess. And the excuse given was that the candidate did not realize those actions -or lack of action -as being illegal. Now if someone who is an attorney to begin with, is considered of a caliber high enough to qualify for the office of Attorney General doesn't know those things were illegal -and I, with only my meager and unused B.S. degree know that is against the law, how then could that person ever manage the task of disseminating the law as Attorney General? Something wrong with that type picture, don't 'cha think? But, as we are seeing with this current nomination dilemma, the higher ups -senators, reps, et al -don't seem to comprehend things like that, do they? Which reminds me -have you ever read the book "Makes Me Wanna Holler" (or is it Makes You Wanna Holler) -anyway, written by a young black guy who pulled himself up by his bootstraps, got a degree and a job writing for the Washington Post and wrote this book. Excellent reading and it always makes think of that title with respect to many of those in high political office cause that is exactly what they frequently make me feel like doing!

James B.

Jeni, I know the book. When she was a teenager my mom babysat Nathan McCall a few times.


I will address some of these concerns out of order, naturally.

First, I have always considered you a fashin setter with the great suits and silk pocket squares. It amazes me you aren't used in ads for the paper.

Second, you are a geek, like I am. That's how we both got our hot wives. Some things you just shouldn't question, just accept them, and thank G-d for your exception good fortune. Never mess with the Master Plan.

Third, ignore bad taste and be glad it isn't you committing it. This the rapping issue, Britney Spears, etc.

Next, when I was a kid, all you needed to see TV was a TV set. You plugged it in and got the three major networks. Then cable got involved and eventually, you had to get cable because it had better programming. Along with it came the real Rise of the Corporation. Lobbyists and Political Action Committees have access that the normal citizen doesn't have. Digital TV gives the cable companies another piece of equipment they can rent to you and generate another revenue stream. Periodically, another station goes off of basic service and becomes a premium station. And they don't want a check, they want to deduct their fees directly from my checking account. Wrong.

Last, I have a friend who is a very talented lawyer. She once pointed out how inconsistent I was in being against the Death Penalty but being Pro-Choice. I argued that the Death Penalty was not applied evenly, more to blacks than whites and more to the poor than the rich. Her response was that I was willing to unborn babies but not convicted murderers. I decided not to argue about when a fetus became a baby, she was way smarter than me in this area. Same thing with Snipes and Geithner. The politicians decided they need Geithner and they are looking the other way. If it was you or me, I don't think we'd get away. For a weak defense Geithner owed about $40K, Snipes owed several million and hid out in Africa for 3 years.

I think I have monopolized your comments section more than is justified. Thank you.


James B.

Monty, your comments are never a monopoly. Go on as long as you like.

And I agree with pretty much everything you said: Snipes obviously owed much more than Geithner and the prosecution in his case convinced the jury that he hid out so as not to pay, even though Snipes blames an accountant. Still, I think we agree that if Geithner wasn't "needed" he might have gotten hammered. Look at the guy who won the first season of Survivor, Richard Something or Other. He won $1 mill on the show, didn't pay taxes of a few hundred thousand on it, and a couple years later he's locked up in federal prison for it. No one "needed" him either.

As for the geek thing, you're right. I am still a geek, I guess. I know way too much about Star Trek (especially Next Generation) to be anything but a geek. And the older I get the more convinced I am that women dig geeks for their brain power if nothing else.

It's hard for me to ignore the bad taste when I see stupid people profiting from it. Maybe that's just jealousy in me. Who knows?

And I can't get over that digital TV thing. I hear the feds may delay the "mandatory" switch over. Still, I feel like they're overstepping their bounds to force digital TV on everyone - providers and consumers.

I agree the abortion issue is impossible to debate - and that's regardless of what side of the argument you're on. The biggest hurdle to staging such debates is one side is arguing from a spiritual perspective, and the other is arguing from a scientific perspective. The science side is reluctant to acknowledge any validity to the spiritual argument. The spiritual side is reluctant to acknowledge scientific arguments for fear such acceptance will suggest their faith is wavering.

We agree on the death penalty, I think. In principle I have no problem at all with the death penalty - something I know several friends of mine hate to see me admit to. But that opinion of mine isn't a secret. Nevertheless, I am opposed to the death penalty in practice, partly for the reasons you cited: it's applied unevenly, and that has been proven over and over. The numbers don't lie. And there have been too many instances in which after-the-fact evidence proved or at least strongly suggested that the executed was innocent.

ɔıuʎɔıʇsɐɔɹɐs ǝɥʇ

#3. Two words for you, James: "Armageddon It." Granted, that's a lot tamer than "Amy," but artists have done, are doing, and will do attempt to hide bad statements in the lyrics.

#8. The Digital Transition and Public Safety Act of 2005. Two thousand FIVE, James. That's how long this has been pushed down our throats. Long before the economy turned to crap. By the way, and as you probably know, Mr Obama's plan to delay the switch was defeated by the House, for reasons including the belief that postponing the transition would "confuse" consumers.

#10. It's already happened - in your head.

#11. C'mon, James. Granted your readers are among the brightest out there, but some questions are even beyond anyone's capabilities to answer.


1. I don’t know, but I’d rather have Snipes in the cabinet than Geithner.

2. Yes, it’s a great country, but not because of Joaquin Phoenix. He’s just lucky to live in this country.

3. Yes.

4. She lives in a great country.

5. Your buddy lives in a great country.

6. I think that you have to be schizo to be a Hollywood type, Wesley Snipes in the cabinet notwithstanding.

7. Because this is a great country.

8. If your TV or DVD recorder/tuner are digital, you don’t need a converter box for your rabbit ears. Don’t you listen to the commercials or read the website?

9. Because this is a great country.

10. I recognize you as a fashion plate and creative genius – isn’t that enough?

11. Because you live in a great country.

Well, I have to get back to work. I think you see where this is going, anyway.


"Speaking of bear traps, why hasn't Britney been thrown in one for making that song?"

Wouldn't want to scare the bears away...

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