Highlights from Hair Balls
To the Staff of the Journal News:
When I read recently about how a gun owner published the names and addresses of many of you on a Web site in retaliation for you publishing the names and addresses of gun owners in your area, I have to admit my first reaction was, "Sucks to be you."
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I should note that I am not a gun owner, nor do I intend to be. I do not advocate lax gun restrictions. In fact, I am a strong believer in good gun control laws as was my father, despite the fact that he was a hunter and a gun owner. That being said, what you did in outing people who were not doing anything illegal would have been only mildly interesting if you had done it for legitimate journalistic reasons, but I think you had an ulterior motive.
Like most newspapers, I'm sure you are feeling the pinch that comes with reduced ad rates and declining revenues from online advertising. One way to help bolster your numbers is to increase hits to your Web site, and congratulations, because you certainly did that. And, let's be honest, wasn't that really the point?
Why else would you decide to equate with lunatics and criminals people who went through every legal channel to acquire a weapon? It would be like outing registered Democrats or Republicans. It would be like outing people who apply for permits to open businesses or get married or divorced. But none of those would have gotten you hits because no one cares who decided to open a deli or divorce his wife of 20 years. But they definitely care who is carrying a gun, particularly after the tragedy in Connecticut.
To be honest, I've always been uncomfortable with the outing of criminals as a means of warning people against their existence. The branding of someone with the dreaded scarlet A needs to be done with great care and respect for the problems it creates. There are far too many instances of people on the sex offender list who are guilty of nothing more than being a 19-year-old who slept with a 16-year-old, or those who were wrongfully accused.
There are very good reasons to warn citizens of the dangers around them, and carefully curated lists of criminals can be tremendously beneficial. But a high and mighty rundown of people who did absolutely nothing wrong is the kind of demonization no one needs.
So when someone who wasn't on your list, but does own a gun, decided to fire back with a list of his own, I can honestly say I felt no sympathy for you. I guess I feel somewhat bad for the people who weren't involved in the decision-making process. I'm sure some copy editor is thinking, "Damn, man, I don't control what the bosses do." But just as Newton theorized, "Every stupid action has an equally stupid reaction."
And please don't go whining about how someone used your tactic against you like your colleagues on CNN did when they brought the guy who did it on to discuss his story. All's fair in love AND war, as the saying goes.
Next time you decide to go and do something stupid with technology, try to remember that there are lots of people out there just as smart as if not smarter than you. Entire corporations have felt the wrath of organizations like ANONYMOUS.
But my guess is you got exactly what you wanted: attention.
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Houston renters feeling the squeeze.
The figures vary, but the bottom line remains the same: Most renters in Houston have seen their rents jump from last year. Where's that Rent Is Too Damn High Party guy when we need him?
Rents increased 16.8 percent over last year, according to Fortune magazine's list of the ten cities with the highest increases, where the Bayou City takes top prize. The list claims that Houston has a median monthly rent of $1,270.50, with a 3 percent vacancy rate. (Oakland, the second city on the list, saw an 11.6 percent increase in rent.)
According to a September Houston Chronicle article that cites research firm Apartment Data Services, rents jumped 5.3 percent over the year. The firm calculated the average rent to be $875 a month. (Rents for upscale properties jumped 9.4 percent, according to the story.)
In 2013, 11,000 new apartments will open in Houston, according to the story; the national average is 12,000.
This is one of the few times Hair Balls is grateful to live in a remote, boarded-up crack house with tinfoil over the windows, although even that has seen an increase — now we and our 17 roommates have to pay an extra quarter apiece!
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