It’s been over eight months since I grumbled about some of the idiocy that plagues Earth and humankind, so here’s some high-pitched whining for you. Don’t you love banks and their pseudo-security? "It’s for your own protection, sir," they’ll dutifully and earnestly explain. Sure, making me utter out loud my social security number, mother’s maiden name, date of birth, address, phone number, and name, or some combination thereof, is a great way to prevent identity theft. Please, spare me the condescension and at least admit that it’s the banks that’re being protected from any losses that they’d have to make up to a swindled customer. All this happens, of course, after you have silently entered much of the required data on your telephone’s keypad, but "I’m sorry sir, it’s not coming up on my screen," is what you hear if you raise this point. And banking on the net? What am I, nuts? Hackers have gotten into the Pentagon’s systems. Some bank is going to be safe? As with much else, the little guy is sacrificed to protect the behemoth. The crowning absurdity is that all you’re asking is "has check #8765 cleared." How about newspapers’ sports sections? Maybe it’s just the LATimes, but I suspect not. Have you noticed that unless it involves a ball (spherical, oblong, or flattened), money, or more often both of the preceding, it is not deemed a "sport"? Swimming? Climbing? Skiing? Mountaineering? I’m sure you can name a few of your own. You rarely, if ever, see it on those pages. Endeavors that require far more physical, even mental, competence and prowess than overgrown, overweight, and overpaid men chasing a bounding object don’t make it onto those pages. Don’t cite the Olympics, because that falls under the "money" category. How ridiculous, narrow, and money grubbing! This year we were again treated to the "they’re out to get Christmas" follies. See, by saying "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas," the latter is being undone by resurgent, latter-day heathens! Who’s forcing you to say anything? But it is ridiculous to bid someone a merry anything if they don’t care about it. What "both sides" of this idiotic issue miss is the real answers to the occasionally thorny questions raised by multi-cultural/religious/racial/national societies. These answers lie not in the least common denominator, rather in availing society of the abundance it contains. In this case, more, not fewer tidings are in order. It’s also more personal, friendly, and intimate to bid someone a glad whatever (Kwanzaa, Soorp Hagop, Ramadan, etc.) than some bland cover-all wish. Besides, how could Christmas be threatened, for nigh on two months, that’s all that gets drilled into our consciousness? On a related note, this Christmas stuff is impacting Armenian usage too. There’s a reason why the phrase is "Merry Christmas and Happy New Year." For Catholicism and the Protestantism that sprang from it, those holidays appear in that order. Similarly, in Armenian, they’re reversed "Shnorhavor Nor Daree yev Soorp Dznoont" because the new year arrives before Christmas. But now, some rocket scientists have started to reverse the phrase in Armenian, among Armenia’s, and on the airwaves (Armenian TV) no less! Why? Well, because that’s the way the phrase runs in English. How pathetic. How absurd. How sniveling. Stop it. We have ours, and others theirs, period. Let’s each honor our own with no diminution of the other. While we’re on a quasi-religious streak, let’s revisit our fundamentalist Christian friends at Paz Naz. You might remember them from their appearance in my column about April 24th events two years ago. As I was walking by the movie theatres in Burbank a few weeks ago, a thirty-something woman handed me a glossy postcard touting a concert, "holy chaos six," which among other bands playing included "Freeway People," the same group that tainted the AYF and Shant Vigil two years ago. The concert happened to fall on the same night as another, genuinely Armenian spirited one. I can only hope that the chaos was limited to six people. But when I read the card, I just couldn’t remain silent. I returned to the pusher asked if she wasn’t ashamed of herself, disseminating such filth, and that she should go to the Armenian Church. Her response? "I used to be a Tashnagtzagan too, but God spoke to me." Huh? Was she high? Deranged? I suppose she’d have to be to buy into that brand of fanaticism. And can these people not think? Since when have political and religious leanings been mutually exclusive? Beware these cretins. Did you notice the December 24, 2006 LA Times article about the redwood trees and historic church in Monterey? In another example of "no good deed goes unpunished," the roots of trees planted by parishioners in the 1950s now threaten the very existence of an historic Spanish colonial era church– an interesting story of two conflicting California icons. But that’s where the good part ends and irritation begins. In the very first sentence, the article presents this as a conflict between God and nature. Where did that come from? It seems more like a case of man vs. God AND nature to me. On a less deific note, let me ask if anyone feels a shortage of commercial bombardment. Are the TV, radio, newspapers, websites, billboards, bathroom posters, door-hangers, flyers, etc. insufficient for you? Do you wish you had even more information about useless junk and inane services being peddled to you? Well, if you do have such a crazy craving, you can now go to your neighborhood gas station and get assaulted by the Fuel Cast Network (the one at Shell) while you fill up. Heck, if you’re that desperate, just go there and hang out and watch the stuff appearing atop the fuel pumps! Moving on to simple human folly, something truly incredible happened on the night of the foreign Christmas. Obviously, not much was available by way of open restauran’s, particularly later in the evening. So with a group of friends, we found a new, Armenian owned, restaurant in the heart of Glendale’s Armenian ghetto, on Brand Boulevard. The eight of us sat outside to avoid the loud music. After a very long time and a few attempts to get service, our orders were taken, mostly deserts, coffee, and other light fare. We asked for a round of water, which had never been served. Some time later, we were told a few of the items we’d ordered were unavailable. Meanwhile we’re still waiting for the water. Finally, a third person came out to tell us only dinners were being served, not the sorts of things we’d ordered. So over an hour and a half after arriving, we left the place, still thirsty. Contact me if you want to know what restaurant to avoid. Two equally annoying sides of a coin. Some people seem to think they are too good to sully their hands by flushing a urinal. That, or they want to save water in the wrong way. Conversely, there are those who’ll shower five times a day and think nothing of it, because they would never want to be like "commoners" who stink. Let’s get a grip, OK? Judicious use of water is critical, but so are sanitary conditions. And finally, what is this silliness about being a "morning person" or "night person"? How ridiculous! You can train yourself to be an early riser. You can train yourself to be a night owl. Or you can train yourself to do both, with naps during the day. But to suggest that some of us are born favoring the morning and others the night strikes me as ridiculous. Anybody out there know of any studies on this matter?