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The Week in WTF

1. Rusty Wallace, WTF?

Owing to a change in state law, Rusty Wallace's history of saying anything for a buck might be curbed. The former NASCAR star is the local happy-go-lucky mouthpiece for Midwest Title Loans, which has charged 10,000 percent interest (only marginally hyperbolic) on loans that have to be repaid by the end of the month. On Jan. 1 the law will forbid payday loan vermin from pillaging cash-poor citizens at the same three-figure rate.

About time.

Payday loans are slightly better than loan sharks. Nobody comes to break your kneecaps. They do come to take your car, though, not to mention your dignity.

The trick of payday loans is that, up until now, people who must borrow to pay heating bills and buy groceries probably won't have the total repayment in hand any time soon . . . or later. Or maybe ever. The peril is that the person already in financial tailspin also will lose the only thing of value they own - their car. That's how the loan is designed.

And best of all for the title loan company, the loans never get repaid. They just get rolled over perpetually and become a permanent anchor around the borrower's neck. Very slick. Usury used to be a crime. Now it's capitalism.

By the time he retired from a 25-year NASCAR career in 2005, Wallace had earned $50 million. THAT'S FIFTY MILLION BUCKS! He still shills for various race broadcasts as an analyst. Compared to Pol Pot, he's probably a nice guy.

But his "borrow money for Christmas gifts" TV pitch this month - with Santa and elves and a Christmas tree - is particularly noxious and manipulative. Making poor parents feel guilty for lack of resources at Christmas deserves its own place in Hell. We think it's Level 74.
Just turn left, Rusty. You can't miss it.

2. Former Priests, WTF?

Okay, so this is a personal item from WTF's College of Really Angry Former Catholics.

Why do priests who decide the priesthood is no longer their thing start off by boffing nuns? No time for a contemplative interlude? Couldn't they go somewhere and practice on civilians before the dive into the boffing life? Without warming up in the bullpen, we get too many former priests and former nuns boffing. Yeee-uck.

The same people who used to tell children they'd go to hell for inadvertent sexual daydreams are boffing . . . EACH OTHER!!! And sometimes, they don't go far, far away as they should and leave us alone. No, they hang around and provide lectures on moral uprightness and theological correctness, which, surprise, always validates their life decisions. Really? WTF?

They always seem to surface around Christmas to share ethics homilies. Robert McClory, one of those former priests who started off boffing an ex-nun, is one of these. He wrote a biography about his successor at St. Sabina, the incendiary and professional social martyr Michael Pfleger. They have strong mutual admiration. Pals, it appears. It figures.

Here's a tip. If a priest really wants a life of modesty, spirituality and contemplative service to the needy, he can do it without a megaphone. There are models for this behavior. They're called saints. A megaphone makes you look like a member of the Palin family. Celebrity is seldom inflicted on those committed to avoiding it.

3. Them Fightin' Illini, WTF?

They are going bowling this holiday season, which should fully demonstrate the inflationary growth of useless bowls. But there is this theory afoot that a 6-5 record, built mostly on wins over teams even more mediocre than they are, somehow merits genuflection before the Altar of So The Ef What?

This season was mostly like how you feel after the appendectomy. You feel better than you did before. And maybe that's enough.

As the Trib notes: "The team's most impressive victories this season came against Penn State and Northwestern, but half of the total came against teams with losing records. Illinois feasted on Southern Illinois (5-6), Indiana (4-7) and Purdue (4-7), while losing to 2-9 Minnesota. Still, doubling last season's 3-9 victory total is a feat worth recognizing."


4. Meatloaf, WTF?

Just in time for Thanksgiving overeating, Harry Caray's restaurant on Navy Pier named its meatloaf after Channel 2's Bill Kurtis, whose ranch supplies the beef.

Think of Kurtis and then think of meatloaf. Res ipsa loquitur.

5. Nincompoops, WTF?

Strictly speaking, this is not news WTF thinks is a bad omen for the holidays. We quite enjoy this news. It appears a mountain of evidence suggests, ne PROVES, that the nation is growing an entire generation of idiots. We don't mean idiots in the clinical, medically approved description. We mean idiots like several of your cousins or, alternately, village idiots.

For some reasons obvious and others more cultural, kids don't know how to do things anymore - like tie shoe laces (what's a shoe lace, daddy?) or open a can that does not possess a pull tab or even address an envelop. Or answer a question without Google.

We are heartened by this news because of the Cosmic Grading Curve of Existence. Even though we at WTF are not becoming smarter by any baseline description, we are becoming comparatively smarter as we age. Which might be the first time in the recorded history of the species that an older generation is smarter than the new one without having to do anything.

If the only way to be smarter is to be trapped in a phone booth with a growing herd of ever-dumber people, we'll settle for that. Unfortunately, they won't know what a phone booth is.


David Rutter is the former publisher/editor of the Lake County News-Sun, a Sun-Times Media property. He welcomes your comments.


Posted on November 26, 2010

MUSIC - Chief Keef Changed The Industry.
TV - Vizio's Best Product Is You.
POLITICS - UIC: Soda Taxes Work.
SPORTS - More McCaskey Malpractice.

BOOKS - All About Poop.


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