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Subject to Arrest

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This is the sign inside the door of the 7-11 down the street from my office. A bit presumptuous, don’t you think? D.C. doesn’t have a general loitering law, but I suppose this sign is referring to the space inside the store, or the parking lot directly outside. Since that’s 7-11 property they can call the police if they wish, but it seems a bit forward to tell loiterers what the police may do to them.

Hey, it could be worse. At least they haven’t put in one of these.

The Lorax, Mazda Spokesperson

A Washington Post piece from awhile back explains how Mazda is using Dr. Seuss’s “Lorax” to market SUVs inside public schools. It’s pretty sickening:

At Polk Elementary on Tuesday, more than 100 kindergartners and fourth- and fifth-graders crowded into the multipurpose room for a rendition of Seuss’s classic environmentalist tale.

The kids listened as the little furry Lorax tried, furiously and fruitlessly, to defend his beloved Truffula Trees and Brown Bar-ba-loots from being destroyed by the Once-ler, that greedy Thneed magnate.

Afterward, a Mazda representative — Dan Ryan of the government relations office — stood up.

He unveiled an oversized $1,000 check meant to help beef up the school’s library collection. “We think reading is very important,” Ryan said. The audience cheered.

Ryan then told the kids they could help raise up to a million dollars for other schools’ libraries — and qualify for a sweepstakes entry (trip for four to Universal Studios).

All they had to do was persuade their parents to go to the nearest Mazda dealership for a test-drive.

For every person who test-drives a car — and brings in a special certificate, which students received at school Tuesday — Mazda will donate $25 to the NEA’s foundation for public schools.

Ryan told his rapt audience that Mazda’s latest models get great gas mileage — at 35 miles to the gallon, the CX-5 is the most efficient SUV on American highways, he said.

“That’s the kind of car we think the Lorax would like to drive,” he said.

I’ve always thought that schools have a certain sanctity that should never been violated by people who are there to sell a product. This Lorax scenario illustrates why. Apart from the absurdity of a Mazda rep detailing MPG specs to kindergartners, the pitch he’s offering is deeply misleading. Would the Lorax, famed fictional advocate for responsible consumption, really endorse an SUV because it gets 35 miles to the gallon?

I don’t think so—environmentalist Bill McKibben says that even if we all drove hybrid cars, that still wouldn’t be enough to stop global warming. But Mazda’s representatives, put into a position of implied authority by school officials, are “teaching” elementary-schoolers otherwise.

What a shame. For more on this, see the Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood.

New to Me Music: Elmatic

Few dispute that Nas’s Illmatic is one of the greatest works of hip-hop ever. Can’t get enough? You can’t miss Detroit native Elzhi’s 2010 spinoff, Elmatic. The rhymes are worthy of the beats (most of which are directly imported from the original and then altered an octave); take for instance the opening to Elzhi’s take on “The World Is Yours”:

I’m going Rambo, fam dough is moving pretty damn slow
The blam blam turned the Trans Am into a Lambo

Scram yo, my Soul Calibur is like Namco
I dance on track but these n****s is Sambo

Cop the whole album—it’s a free download at xxlmag.com.

Social Security Benefits Have Increased: But It’s Not Enough

Posted at breadforthecity.org:

We’ve got good news for many Bread for the City clients: as of the new year, recipients of Social Security are receiving slightly larger checks each month. This is the Social Security Administration’s first “Cost of Living Adjustment” since 2009.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a common federal disability benefit that over five million Americans rely upon to survive. For recipients of SSI, this ‘COLA’ increase amounts to a $24 bump in monthly income, from $674 to $698 — a total increase of $288 for the year.

It’s a modest increase, but for our clients who receive Social Security benefits, it does make a difference.

Continued here.