You and you and you.

Our census form arrived yesterday. Looking at the bar code made me feel all tingly. I said, “Raymond Shaw is the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human being I’ve ever known in my life.” And then I filled it out. The government estimate was that it would take me 10 minutes. Took me about two, but then, I’m the designated filler-out-of-forms in the family, with everyone’s SSN memorized and all the birthdays, so I’m good at this. It’ll go back today.

Just for grins, though, I went out looking for the right-wing crazy census crowd. I stumbled, instead, on an eHow article, which the smart set says is my future as a freelance writer. eHow is fed by Demand Media, the freelance sweatshop that pays in the neighborhood of 3 cents a word for “articles.” Here’s one:

Every ten years, the United States Census Bureau conducts the U.S. Census. This census is important to the government because they are attempting to get an accurate count of the entire population. This includes every man, woman, and child residing in the United States — citizens, illegal immigrants, those here on visas, and non-citizen legal residents.

The census is considered by some citizens and illegal immigrants alike to be intrusive. Therefore, you may be asking if it is required that you participate.

“Therefore” — a word beloved by seventh-graders and word count-padders everywhere. In fact, it wasn’t until I stumbled across it that I could say, precisely, why eHow drives me insane. It’s not that the “articles” are useless, or that the pay would shame a sweatshop operator. It’s that it reminds me of how I wrote in junior-high school:

Some citizens and others residing in the United States find the Census to be intrusive. For example, in an interview done by National Public Radio in 2009, one U.S. citizen complained that the census required him to answer questions such as how many guns he kept in his home, and where they were kept. Obviously, to him, this information did not seem to be necessary for the government to know.

The only thing missing are little blue dots over each word, from my Bic laboriously counting each one. She missed an opportunity to add two: “United States” inserted before “government” in the last sentence would fit nicely.

But moronic as it is, it isn’t the dumbest thing I found. That would be this spicy right-wing paranoia roundup in Wired, focusing on the news that some census collection would include GPS coordinates:

A post on the widely read in June warned: “I will tell you plainly, the NWO [New World Order] controlled American military wants these GPS markers so they can launch Predator Drone missile attacks, the aptly named HELLFIRE missile I might add, against a long list of undesirables here in CONUS, continental United States.”

So when I drop that form in the mail, I’ve as much as called in a missile strike on my own house. MAY GOD FORGIVE ME FOR WHAT I’VE DONE.

He won’t forgive me if I don’t get to work, however. Off to the library — I have microfilm to examine.

Posted at 10:07 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' |

36 responses to “You and you and you.”

  1. john c said on March 17, 2010 at 10:17 am

    The thought I had when I saw a story this morning about right wingers avoiding the census was this: Good. They’ll be undercounted.
    Happy St. Patrick’s Day all.

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  2. Mark P. said on March 17, 2010 at 10:27 am

    Have they considered that other evil government organization that tracks your location? You know, the Postal Service?

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  3. Jeff Borden said on March 17, 2010 at 10:38 am

    Right-wingers increasingly remind me of Dwight Shrute on “The Office.”

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  4. MichaelG said on March 17, 2010 at 10:45 am

    That writing has a definite “Dick and Jane” quality to it.

    Want lat and long on somebody’s house? Check Google Earth. Those wing nut idiots really do live in an alternate universe.

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  5. 4dbirds said on March 17, 2010 at 11:36 am

    I wrote a note to my decendents in the lower margin. Not sure if the individual forms will be scanned and kept but I still wanted to give a shout-out to my gene pool.

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  6. Bob (not Greene) said on March 17, 2010 at 11:39 am

    Census = evil

    Wiretapping = patriotic

    The thing that’s so funny about all this is that there’s probably way more information about most of those people already on the Internet. Addresses, phone numbers, names of kids in the house. We are surrounded by the stupid.

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  7. John said on March 17, 2010 at 11:43 am

    Slight clarification Bob…

    Cen­sus (gov’t is tracking me) = evil

    Wire­tap­ping (gov’t is tracking evil doers) = patriotic

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  8. paddyo' said on March 17, 2010 at 11:50 am

    These anti-Census mouth-foamers are kith and kin with the wingnut-whackjobs who think Denver International Airport (which opened 15 years ago this month) is some kind of black-helicopters-New-World-Order base where all the patriots will be rounded up after jack-booted United Nations-Trilateral Commission forces take over America — you know, the “Red Dawn” wetdream.
    Here’s one of their websites . . . the back-and-forth between the uppity conspiracy theorist and the, let’s face it, somewhat-uppity city government/airport flack is amusing . . .

    Having covered the last 2-1/2 years of construction of the airport when I worked for The Denver Post, I can attest that there are no underground secret buildings OR (and I am not making this one up) “underground runways.”
    If only . . .

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  9. Jeff Borden said on March 17, 2010 at 12:24 pm

    In the spirit of St. Patrick’s Day, check out this compilation of destructively overserved people falling down.

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  10. Scout said on March 17, 2010 at 12:30 pm

    My office wingnut proudly informed me that he only answered three questions on his census form. He is white, he lives in his home all the time and he was born in 1966. He refused to answer the rest of the questions because “it is none of their business.” I wonder if a census worker will drop by to fill in the blanks. It will definitely piss him off if he manages to stimulate the economy that way. It might make Obama look good.

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  11. Joe Kobiela said on March 17, 2010 at 12:53 pm

    John #7,
    Pilot Joe

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  12. Jeff Borden said on March 17, 2010 at 12:55 pm

    One of my pals won tickets to a sneak preview of “Hot Tub Time Machine,” which will bow on March 26, so he took me as his guest since his wife was far too sensible to attend. It is a foul-mouthed, gross, R-rated retelling of “Back to the Future,” where some sad middle-aged guys are transported back to a ski resort in 1986. The prime bad guy is a member of the Ski Patrol who constantly watches “Red Dawn” and sees Commies everywhere. The movie is pretty terrible, but the “Red Dawn” gag did make me laugh out loud.

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  13. crinoidgirl said on March 17, 2010 at 1:06 pm

    Ummm, Pilot Joe, I think John @7 was being facetious. I could be wrong, though.

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  14. moe99 said on March 17, 2010 at 1:20 pm

    I’m with you, crinoidgirl, John @7 was being facetious. Perhaps Joe K was too?

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  15. Jason T. said on March 17, 2010 at 1:50 pm

    Some days, when I watch the U.S. Congress, with Dennis Kucinich on the left and Michelle Bachmann on the right, I have to wonder if surrendering our sovereignty to the United Nations would be that much worse.

    Besides, it seemed to work pretty well on “Star Trek.”

    On the other hand: “WOLVERINES!!!!

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  16. Jeff Borden said on March 17, 2010 at 2:08 pm

    Amen, Jason, amen.

    In fairness, Kucinich is not considered a mainstream Democrat, but a far-left kook who is widely ignored except when his vote is required as it is for HCR. You’ll have to look very, very hard to find evidence that Kucinich is in demand as any kind of speaker or spokesman for any political movement. Bachmann, in comparison, is always headlining events and fund-raisers. In fact, she’s appearing somewhere with Sarah Palin, which means one room is going to be full of a whole lotta crazy. My point is that she is a very high profile Republican, while Kucinich is generally viewed as an embarrassment by most Dems including me. Then again, I was in Ohio when he drove Cleveland into bankruptcy, so I’ve known for a long-time the guy is a loser.


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  17. paddyo' said on March 17, 2010 at 2:14 pm

    Yeah, Jeff B, TV has been inundated by “Hot Tub Time Machine” ads for weeks now, and I’m sure I’ll never see it unless it pops onto late-night cable sometime — but hell, the riff on “Red Dawn”? I’d sure tune in for that. I mean, Patrick Swayze, Charlie Sheen, Lea Thompson AND Jennifer Grey (pre-nose job) as anti-Commie freedom fighters? Not to mention Ben Johnson and Harry Dean Stanton? AND Powers Boothe? Wow, it doesn’t get much ’80s-er than that, does it . . .
    But hey, the land of the free needs conspiracy-theory bogeymen every decade or so, and the Census Bureau — not to mention Y2K! — fills a convenient whipping-boy role. I cringe at the possibility that one or another door-knocker for the Census may get blown away in a state with a Make-My-Day law — or maybe just in northern Idaho, notorious hangout for gummint haters.

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  18. Jeff Borden said on March 17, 2010 at 3:16 pm


    Don’t forget classic B movie villain William Smith as the ruthless Russky and the truly great Ron O’Neal, best known for playing the title role in “Superfly,” as the Cuban commander. I’d never stopped to think about the middle-aged male fantasy embedded in “Red Dawn,” namely Lea Thompson slipping into the tent of Powers Boothe. I guess in post-invasion America, where we are told the citizens of Denver have turned to cannibalism, there are no longer any worries about statuory rape.

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  19. Sue said on March 17, 2010 at 3:47 pm

    Heavens, there are some nasty people out there. Kick some puppies, while you’re at it.

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  20. Jeff Borden said on March 17, 2010 at 3:58 pm

    The guy who took the video for the Columbus Dispatch must be the son of someone Nancy and I knew at the Dispatch. Doral Chenoweth was the restaurant critic “Grumpy Gourmet.” Maybe he still is. I’ve kind of lost track.

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  21. MarkH said on March 17, 2010 at 4:42 pm

    Jeff B., I’m pretty sure Doral passed away some time back. But I’m sure Kirk can confirm.

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  22. Dave B said on March 17, 2010 at 5:08 pm

    The census form asks “how many people… on April 1, 2010?”.
    By filling out the form and sending it back before that date you risk sending misinformation to the federal government, and they’re the ones with the drones you know. I’m not taking any chances I’m holding mine til the first of April.

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  23. Jeff Borden said on March 17, 2010 at 5:15 pm

    He still has a Facebook page, which lists him as being 89. I doubt if he’s reviewing for the Dispatch any more, but he appears to be alive and kicking. His profile photo looks pretty much like how I remember him some 25-plus years ago.
    I remember accompanying the Grump to a weird, short-lived eatery meant to evoke an old-fashioned bordello with the red-flocked wallpaper, etc. They had a dessert called the Better Than Sex Chocolate Cake. After a few forkfuls, the Grump announced, “No, it’s not.”

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  24. nancy said on March 17, 2010 at 5:20 pm

    JoAnn’s Chili Bordello. Discussed here previously.

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  25. Sue said on March 17, 2010 at 5:24 pm

    If you’re going to fear-monger, why not go all out? I suggest that someone start a rumor, someone with a blog, perhaps, or two people with blogs one of which is named Rurritable; anyway, a rumor that census forms contain a retinal reader that, when you look it over, reads and transports your genetic information back to Washington, where a clone is made of you and sent back to your district to vote really early on election day. That way, you get to the polls and find out you’ve ALREADY voted – and Bill Clinton suddenly starts winning elections all over the country on write-in votes. Suddenly Bill is attending Council and School Board meetings everywhere (because he’s been cloned too), and dating your daughter.
    It’s frightening, I tell you, truly frightening the direction this country’s going in.

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  26. Deborah said on March 17, 2010 at 6:18 pm

    Nancy, just read your link to your previous post about JoAnn’s Chili Bordello. I even read the comments and it was sorta sad to find Ashley there. But so many other familiar names were there too, back in 2006. You’ve got a pretty loyal crowd for sure.

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  27. brian stouder said on March 17, 2010 at 7:56 pm

    any­way, a rumor that cen­sus forms con­tain a reti­nal reader that, when you look it over, reads and trans­ports your genetic infor­ma­tion back to Wash­ing­ton, where a clone is made of you and sent back to your dis­trict to vote really early on elec­tion day

    Pam and I had almost that same conversation. She asked me, in her most serious low-tone/narrow mouthed way, whether I realized just exactly what we had mailed back to the government.

    Playing along, I widened my eyes and in a desperate whisper said “What? What have you done? What did you do?!” – and she (with a somewhat triumphant look) said “I LICKED the envelope! Don’t you see? Don’t you understand? THEY HAVE MY DNA!!”

    Good God in heaven; if we have any imperfections in our genetics, then an unforgiving death panel awaits us

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  28. coozledad said on March 17, 2010 at 8:22 pm

    At the preliminary briefing and orientation for those of us lucky enough to snag a spot on the Central Piedmont Euthanasia Adjudicators Board, they told us we’d be given a fairly free hand in deciding who to snuff. It’s not like federal sentencing guidelines, anyway. I don’t know why people fret so. Just bring cash and jewelry.

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  29. John said on March 17, 2010 at 8:46 pm

    Moe and Crinoid,

    Thank you ladies very much. I was very much shocked to see that anyone took me serious. I was considering the choice of using sarcasm delimiters in future posts but see now that would be unnecessary.

    re: Census forms. Having reviewed thousands from 1790 through 1930, I am convinced that the virtually everyone lead uneventful lives during that period. And that a lot of people fudged their age. I’m not worried about this year’s form, as my clone has been moved to the Yucca Underground Clone Repository awaiting the fall of this country due to water fluoridation.

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  30. Dexter said on March 17, 2010 at 8:55 pm

    The flash-back comments about Arthur Treacher’s reminded me of the stand on Clinton near Lebamoff’s Tavern which stood there for several years around 1970.
    Good fish and chips, malt vinegar, sodas. That may have been the same building that Famous Fish of Stroh moved into when they franchised the brand.
    I “knew” Treacher as second banana to Merv Griffen on the 1960s TV show, later I caught up with his movie career on TCM.

    And I wonder if the Vienna Beef hot dog stands that used to be all over the Chicago city-scape still give a scoop of excellent french fries, gratis, with every dog sold.

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  31. alex said on March 17, 2010 at 9:55 pm

    Dex, not only did that Arthur Treacher’s subsequently become the Fish of Stroh, but it has been through countless changes over the years, including a runaway car through the front front of it (not a Toyota) several years ago in its then-incarnation as a discount cigarette store. Not sure what’s in there now. Might be discount tattoos.

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  32. Dexter said on March 17, 2010 at 10:12 pm

    Thanks for the update, alex.

    Here’s a sort-of census thought:
    I heard a radio report yesterday which gave some info I doubted. Some U.S. veterans of the Vietnam war were announcing a plaza they had solicited for and gotten constructed in a VA hospital in Cincinnati.

    The men reported the normally accepted figure of 2.5 million US military troops as the number who served in the war. (the 2000 US census reports 2.8 million, which is probably faulty, I am guessing)

    Here’s the statistic which made me search a bit, however…these guys claim there are only 800, 000 living Viet Nam vets.
    The 1990 census listed about a million two hundred thousand, so this must be right.
    Isn’t it a mind blowing stat? Less than a third of us are alive.
    These men on the radio reported being sprayed multiple times by a “fine mist of spray” which was harmless Agent Orange, they were told.
    What a miserable situation those guys found themselves in.
    They weren’t “lucky” like I was ,not being in any spray zone. ( I don’t think…but I ate pineapples and bananas which certainly must have been sprayed). Oh well. Interesting to me, at least.

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  33. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on March 17, 2010 at 11:27 pm

    Jeff B., it’s “Schrute.” I know you’d want to get that right.

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  34. velvet goldmine said on March 18, 2010 at 12:49 am

    Nancy, As a Demand Studios writer, I feel a nerdish need to point out that ehow is “fed” by both edited DS pieces and by separate contributors. I can tell you the DS writer forums buzz with indignation over this state of affairs, especially after we get rewrite orders for inadequate research or too many passive verbs.

    Time Magazine has a piece this week about Demand about going undercover as one of its writers:


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  35. Dave said on March 18, 2010 at 4:08 am

    Yesterday, driving home, I was listening to the local afternoon WOWO show and I believe every (fill in appropriate term) in the Northeast Indiana area was calling in. One guy from Churubusco said he answered question number one, put it back in the envelope, and mailed it in.

    Brian, at 27, I’ll bet he never thought of DNA.

    Another told the listeners he put his through the shredder.

    How do these people get this way? I’m another who hopes that someday, my descendants might look for us and there we’ll be.

    Alex, the onetime Arthur Treacher’s is a tattoo parlor now

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  36. Mosef said on March 18, 2010 at 10:40 am

    I’m a quasi-anarchist, so I have a little twitch filling out census forms. But what struck me this time, and I’m surprised that our Editor in chief didn’t comment on it, is the bizarre tense disagreement in the instructions. They send the instructions out in March saying to fill it out right away. But the directions say to count all the people who WERE living in the house at 4/1/10. Including newborns and people staying there temporarily, presumily who cannot be counted in mid-March. Yes, of course on could respond prospectively, but that defeats the direct intent which is to count as of 4/1. It just seems strange to me to fill out a form on March 15th that says who WAS living here on April 1st. A small thing, but so stupid for a process that is costing $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$. Yes, I completed the whole thing, and yes, I fudged the b-dates and phone number.

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